TEACHERS EDUCATION: CONCEPT, CHALLENGES, AND IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION FOR PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

It is well known that the quality and extent of learner achievement are determined primarily by teacher competence, sensitivity and teacher motivation.

The National Council for Teacher Education has defined teacher education as “A programme of education, research and training of persons to teach from pre-primary to higher education level”.

Teacher education is a programme that is related to the development of teacher proficiency and competence that would enable and empower the teacher to meet the requirements of the profession and face the challenges therein.

According to Goods Dictionary of Education Teacher education means, all the formal and non-formal activities and experiences that help to qualify a person to assume responsibilities of a member of the educational profession or to discharge hisresponsibilities more effectively.

In 1906-1956, the program of teacher preparation was called teacher training. It prepared teachers as mechanics or technicians. It had narrower goals with its focus being only on skill training. The perspective of teacher education was therefore very narrow and its scope was limited. As Kilpatric put it, Training is given to animals and circus performers, while education is to human beings.

Teacher education encompasses teaching skills, sound pedagogical theory and professional skills.

Teacher Education = Teaching Skills + Pedagogical theory + Professional skills.

Teaching skills would include providing training and practice in the different techniques, approaches and strategies that would help the teachers to plan and impart instruction, provide appropriate reinforcement and conduct effective assessment. It includes effective classroom management skills, preparation and use of instructional materials and communication skills.

Pedagogical theory includes the philosophical, sociological and psychological considerations that would enable the teachers to have a sound basis for practicing the teaching skills in the classroom. The theory is stage specific and is based on the needs and requirements that are characteristic of that stage.

Professional skills include the techniques, strategies and approaches that would help teachers to grow in the profession and also work towards the growth of the profession. It includes soft skills, counseling skills, interpersonal skills, computer skills, information retrieving and management skills and above all life long learning skills.

An amalgamation of teaching skills, pedagogical theory and professional skills would serve to create the right knowledge, attitude and skills in teachers, thus promoting holistic development.

OBJECTIVES OF TEACHER’S EDUCATION :

Vision of teacher education :

Teacher education has to become more sensitive to the emerging demands from the school system. For this, it has to prepare teachers for a dual role of;

Encouraging, supportive and humane facilitator in teaching learning situations who enables learners (students) to discover their talents, to realize their physical and intellectual potentialities to the fullest, to develop character and desirablesocial and human values to function as responsible citizens; and,

An active member of the group of persons who make conscious effort to contribute towards the process of renewal of school curriculum to maintain its relevance to the changing societal needs and personal needs of learners, keeping in view the experiences gained in the past and the concerns and imperatives that have emerged in the light of changing national development goals and educational priorities.

 

These expectations suggest that teacher operates in a larger context and its dynamics as well as concerns impinge upon her functioning. That is to say, teacher has to be responsive and sensitive to the social contexts of education, the various disparities in the background of learners as well as in the macro national and global contexts, national concerns for achieving the goals of equity, parity, social justice as also excellence.

To be able to realize such expectations, TE has to comprise such features as would enable the student teachers to;

 

  • Care for children, and who love to be with them;
  • Understand children within social, cultural and political contexts;
  • View learning as a search for meaning out of personal experience;
  • Understand the way learning occurs, possible ways of creating conductive conditions for learning, differences among students in respect of the kind, pace and styles of learning
  • View knowledge generation as a continuously evolving process of reflective learning.
  • Be receptive and constantly learning.
  • View learning as a search for meaning out of personal experience, and knowledge generation as a continuously evolving process of reflective learning.
  • View knowledge not as an external reality embedded in textbooks, but as constructed in the shared context of teaching￾learning and personal experience.
  • Own responsibility towards society, and work to build a better world.
  • Appreciate the potential of productive work and hands-on experience as a pedagogic medium both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Analyze the curricular framework, policy implications and texts.
  • Have a sound knowledge base and basic proficiency in language.

 

The objectives of teacher education would therefore be to,

  • Provide opportunities to observe and engage with children, communicate with and relate to children
  • Provide opportunities for self-learning, reflection, assimilation and articulation of new ideas; developing capacities for self directed learning and the ability to think, be self-critical and to work in groups.
  • Provide opportunities for understanding self and others (including one‘s beliefs, assumptions and emotions); developing the ability for self analysis, self-evaluation, adaptability, flexibility, creativity and innovation.
  • Provide opportunities to enhance understanding, knowledge and examine disciplinary knowledge and social realities, relate subject matter with the social milieu and develop critical thinking.
  • Provide opportunities to develop professional skills in pedagogy, observation, documentation, analysis, drama, craft, story-telling and reflective inquiry.

 

ICT in Schools and e-learning :

With the onset and proliferation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), there is a growing demand that it be included in school education. Teacher education has been structured to orient and sensitize the teacher to distinguish between developmentally appropriate and detrimental uses of ICT. It needs to also equip teachers with competence to use ICT for their own professional development.

In view of the above discussion the newly visualized Teacher education program as put forth by NCERT is as follows;

Newly visualized Teacher Education Program￾Emphasizes learning as a self-learning participatory process taking place in social context of learner‘s as well as wider social context of the community to nation as a whole.

Puts full faith in self learning capacity of school children and student teacher and evolving proper educative programme for education.

Views the learner as an active participative person in learning. His/her capabilities or potentials are seen not as fixed but capable of development through experiences.

Views the teacher as a facilitator, supporting, encouraging learner‘s learning.

Does not treat knowledge as fixed, static or confined in books but as something being constructed through various types of experiences. It is created through discussion, evaluate, explain, compare and contrasts i.e., through interaction.

Emphasizes that appraisal in such an educative process will be continuous, will be self-appraisal, will be peer appraisal, will be done by teacher educators, and formal type too.

 

CHALLENGES IN TEACHER’S EDUCATION

One immediate challenge that confronts teacher education in Nigeria is lack of adequate planning for the future. If we are to cater for five million children in the next ten years, we should have by now adequate statistics on the number of schools and teachers needed for the next decade.

There is the prevailing crisis in education and society typified by underachievement, corruption, crime, indiscipline and underutilization of capacities in all facets of human life and national development which could be ascribed to the neglect of general education, teacher education and pitiable plight of the teachers.

There is also the problem of demand and supply. Due to lack of effective coordination of the work in the various Ministries of Education in Nigeria we have a blazairo situation on our hands. While one part of the country is seriously short of trained teachers another section has an apparentsurplus of trained teachers it cannot absorb. This is particularly true of the Grade II teachers.

The Phelps-Stocks Commission (1920) had identified other problems as (a) the absence of teaching-learning aids in schools; (b) the absence of professionally trained staff; (c) the problem of non-supervision/inspection of schools; (d) the problems of poor incentives to the teachers; (e) poor funding of schools; (f) lack of staff development programmes in most schools and colleges; (g) poor research facilities and above all, the admission of those who are not actually interested in teaching career.

Because of these numerous problems or challenges, Ukeje (1992) therefore cautioned teacher trainers in Nigeria to ensure that they do not produce dunces in the name of letting the people to go as each of such dunces is surely-going to.

 

Despite the above staggering problems/challenges confronting teacher education, with task and determination, teacher education can still be salvage from its apparent impending collapse. The poor quality of teachers produced could result from lack of qualified teachers to teach learners. The poor interpretation and implementation of syllable and lack of dedication to duty can bring about wrong teaching and poor quality of teachers produced. Taiwo (1980) and Joshua (1997) all agreed that instructional delivery personnel should possess certain minimum levels of competence in their chosen fields guarantee that the graduates of such programmes are properly taught and endowed with appropriate skills for the labour market. Adequate funding by government to teacher training institution will enhance adequate provision of funds for manpower development, good environment, and correct inspection of teacher training institutions.

IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION FOR PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

Education is a tool that avails people with knowledge, skill, technique, and information which empowers them to know their rights and duties toward the family, society, and the nation. Education has helped in no small measure to improve the quality of life in any society.

This could be seen in features exhibited through education which include removing poverty, safety and security against crime, prevention of wars and terrorism as well as commerce and trade. Others are maintenance of law and order, women empowerment, communications, and upliftment of economically weaker sections of the societies. One of the most important benefits of education in a society is that it improves the standard of living and assists individuals to contribute to the development of the nation/society.

Education is a very important key that can be used to unlock many closed doors in a country. When a nation understands the imperative of education as a catalyst to development, such a nation would experience astronomic socioeconomic growth in a short time.

However, for a developing country like Nigeria, there is the need to realize how education can be used to improve the economy. When illiteracy is eradicated, the citizens become enlightened and this results in the right actions expected by a good citizen. It is noteworthy that once the citizens live aright, the country will be in better shape. Also, an educated person, who is transformed, cannot be found in the act of robbery, murder, kidnapping, rape, and other vices, thus making the nation a place of peace and comfort where economic developments thrive.

School systems today are charged with addressing ever-increasing demands: reducing the achievement gap, adopting evidence-based practices, meeting adequate yearly progress goals, managing the requirements of second-language and special-needs students, and remaining current on the increasing amount of pedagogical and content area research. Educators must keep abreast of the important advances that are occurring in education. This is where professional development comes in.

Professional development is defined as “ the process of improving staff skills and competencies needed to produce outstanding educational results for students”. Thomas G. states “One constant finding in the research literature is that notable improvement in education almost never take place in the absence of professional development. Professional development is key to meeting today’s educational demands.

High-quality professional development strategies are essential to schools. The days of teacher staff development sessions consisting of “sit-and-get” workshops and expert-delivered awareness campaigns are long gone. We are now moving toward more effective and more engaging professional development models. Research and experience help us recognize that high-quality ongoing professional development that deepens teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical skills; provides opportunities for practice, research, and reflection; and includes efforts that are job-embedded, sustained, and collaborative will assist in the goal to remain up-to-date.

Additionally, professional development is increasingly seen as a systemic process that includes the development of all individuals involved with student achievement from the superintendent to the teaching assistants. The Learning First Alliance’s Every Child Reading (2000) maintains that “it is largely ineffective to educate classroom teachers about early reading instruction unless their administrators, policymakers, specialists, teaching assistants, tutors, and parents operate with similar concepts and practices.

Teachers Professional Development Programmes

Professional development is learning to earn or maintain professional credentials such as academic degrees to formal coursework, attending conferences, and informal learning opportunities situated in practice. It has been described as intensive and collaborative, ideally incorporating an evaluative stage. There are a variety of approaches to professional development, including consultation, coaching, communities of practice, lesson study, mentoring, reflective supervision, and technical assistance. The motivation of teachers to remain learners throughout their career underpins professional accountability and ensures responsibility.

Skills needed for a new teaching style

All-rounded student development no longer refers only to intellectual growth, but involves the mastery of various skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009).

In response to such a change, teachers need to meet new expectations to facilitate the development of 21-century skills in student-centered learning, with one prime example being the ISTE standard for teachers (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008). Getting teachers prepared for the launch of a new 21st-century skills-oriented teaching style is no easy task.

It is proposed that most of the learning goals of 21st-century skills can be taught within the context of scientific inquiry or project-based learning, which requires “ambiguous” teaching. This teaching style calls for teachers to be able to engage students in self-directed strategies about their own learning, to organize activities that delegate learning decisions to students and monitor their progress, to facilitate learning activities such as collective problem-solving, and to guide students in thinking about complex problems by giving them feedback following assessment.

In easing the “ambiguity” of such a novel teaching model, this section aims to explore areas that teachers need to polish their own skills in so as to effectively support the teaching of and help students develop 21st-century skills, namely teachers’ attitudes towards and competencies of adopting 21st-century skills, their pedagogical orientation, and professional identity.

THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION IN CREATING SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS

As a rule, entrepreneurs are creative, take risks, have leadership skills, and have a great desire to succeed in their own business. However, without having a proper education, their talent may not be sufficient. If the talent of the entrepreneurs were enough, then the most influential and efficient people would always be the most talented. Therefore, talent alone is not enough, but it offers an advantage in front of others, until the moment the entrepreneurs get to use it anymore.

Entrepreneurship educators and researchers need to take a series of measures to create a community at the professional level that aims to share common values and goals, in order to fundamentally change both nature and practice and the effects of entrepreneurial education. To cultivate the talent of entrepreneurs they need to practice because this is just a starting point. Especially since every entrepreneur has a talent they can develop. This is why they need formal education as well as informal education (such as the support of a life coach to help them realize their potential, mentors, etc.).

Regarding the future of entrepreneurial education, it refers to the relevance, usefulness, coherence, as well as effectiveness, and efficiency of the courses, as well as the programs that the entrepreneur needs at different levels of education and training. Also, the biggest obstacle to the success of entrepreneurs is the lack of confidence in their own forces. Thus, entrepreneurs need to harness their potential to build their confidence. Taking into account the fact that an ordinary man uses only 10% of his potential).

In addition, the cause of entrepreneurs’ failure is a lack of confidence in their own forces. So they need mentors and coaches to support them to keep going. They need another form of learning, by which to know themselves. Through education, entrepreneurs actually learn how to work with their people to achieve success.

In this way, they learn how to have teams and train them to reach the desired level of performance. Thus, the organization that intends to facilitate the education of all its members and continuously transforms itself is defined by the existence of organizational conditions that favor learning.

In this sense, for leaders to be able to develop other leaders, education and training are needed to have a positive attitude, in terms of encouraging people to join a leadership position. It is said that it is essential for entrepreneurs to consider three types of education. The first form of education refers to the academic one, in which they learn to write, read and solve problems.

Thus, the entrepreneur’s ability to keep abreast of changes in the information field is very necessary, as opposed to what they learned yesterday.

Just that often, academic education is not the smartest move for entrepreneurs, because they need to learn the skills and tactics of the “real world” by taking concrete actions. Practically it is impossible for entrepreneurs to learn something without doing that. So people learn most 90% of what they say and do, 70% of what they say, 50% of what they hear and see, 30% of what they see, 20% of what they hear, and 10% of what they read. So no matter how good a human being is at a theoretical level on a particular subject, he must also know how to apply that knowledge and influence, other people, as well. Otherwise, the knowledge becomes redundant.

Then, there is a need for vocational education for job security, which refers to the knowledge of a job, from which they can earn money. It’s just not enough professional education, because it refers to the trades such as lawyer, doctor, etc. Which means that vocational education does not turn these people into entrepreneurs? And last but not least, we are talking about financial education that represents a financial culture by understanding the specific language and figures.

In other words, financial education refers to how much money entrepreneurs can keep and how much money they manage to work for him, and how many generations he manages to make money. Basically, this is the level at which the entrepreneurs have to reach the level of education. But in order to reach this level, we were taught that entrepreneurs must carefully choose their teachers from whom they want to learn, especially if they are not rich people. Then there is a need for a certain attitude, which represents 80% of the financial education, if an entrepreneur uses expressions such as “I can’t afford it”, “I don’t care about money” etc., then he will always be poor.

And last but not least, we are talking about learning the language of money, which entrepreneurs must master in order to become rich, words such as: “maximum rate”, “net operating income”, etc. Also, those who want to become entrepreneurs and study this phenomenon, cannot learn this skill from a book because experiential learning is required. So another form of education is a failure. Failure is a significant evolution of entrepreneurs because they learn from trials and personal mistakes. Also, entrepreneurs can learn from the mistakes of others to stop repeating them too, so that they can make time to grow and develop their business. Therefore, the best form of learning is to learn from experience.

Thus, people who do not achieve performance either did nothing meaningful in life or learned nothing.