Should Knowledge Bases Be a Prerequisite in Hiring Teachers?

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I started teaching here in China without an ounce of knowledge on how or what to teach. I was employed for the sole reason that I can speak the English language and that was all they wanted from me. On my first day, I was supplied with a set of flashcards and without any planning or preparation I started to teach. As someone who had not taken any education courses nor undergone any training, I still had the confidence to get in the field. Most of the batch mates I grew up with chose the route of teaching. They didn’t belong in the smartest section where I was in, so my assumption was that teaching was a no brainer kind of profession. It reminds me of the adage, “Those who can’t, teach.” Honestly, it was egotistical of me to even think that. I assumed that everybody can teach. Looking through the lens of my autobiography as a learner helped me to realize that I was wrong.

Another assumption I had was that as a teacher all I needed was a bag of tricks that I can pull out from when I needed to. Using theoretical literature as a lens, I recognized that there are such things as knowledge bases. As claimed by the advocates,  knowledge bases of teaching exist- a codified or codifiable aggregation of knowledge, skill, understanding, and technology, f ethics and disposition, of collective responsibility—as well as a means for representing and communicating it Homes Group (1986) and the Carnegie Task Force (1986). They contend that it should under gird teacher education and rightly inform teaching practice. Gauging how much I know as a teacher, I realized that I was very inept at my job and had used wrongful practices. It didn’t help that many schools like the previous one that I was in are not setting high standards for the kind of teachers they are hiring.

Here in China, you could find all sorts of teacher ‘wannabes’ especially in private schools. However, administrators don’t seem to be bothered that they are hiring inept and experience teachers.  Regardless of their educational background or experience, they could still teach as long as they could speak English. Knowledge bases of teaching are far from what they were looking for in a candidate. Sadly, this custom had been happening for many years now. Although, the government is cracking down on unqualified foreign teachers by requiring them to provide certification or bachelor’s degrees before they could grant working visa, Chinese school heads still find a way to get them in. Education to some has become more of a business.

Knowledge bases of teaching has opened my eyes how much I still need to learn in able for me to become a very effective education professional.  Deprofessionalization of teaching will continue if the governments and all people involved in education all over the world will allow anybody without proper knowledge and training to be in the teaching field.

TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) terminology is new to me. Yet, I have been integrating technology in my teaching. The advantages are that students get easily motivated by it. It also encourages them to be creative, cooperative, collaborative and it builds the skills needed for the 21st century. Do note, however, that it takes a very supportive school administration and skillful teachers for the integration of technology, pedagogy and content to effectively work. On the other hand, the lack of support and funding could hinder in achieving this goal. I, as a teacher, as willing and as motivated as I am at practicing this, our school doesn’t prioritize the use of technology in learning. Teachers like me have found creative ways to solve this problem and it sometimes leads to using our own personal laptops for student use.

It is only fair and just for our students to be taught by qualified and competent teachers. To do this, there must be a rigorous training of education students and all teachers. Mastering all of the knowledge bases and TPACK must be given priority. Schools have to support this by creating professional learning community that continuously updates the knowledge bases to fit with the demands of the 21st century.

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