Teachers explore challenges to inspire more students to teach

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President Tania Aspland for Sydney Morning Herald 

Primary school students put a career in teaching second only to becoming a sports star.
Yet, by the time students reach year 12, their attitude has changed significantly, research tells us.

In Germany, about 84 per cent of those who become teachers choose to do so while they are in secondary school. In Australia that figure is less than 50 per cent – the second lowest of OECD countries, just above the US.

Less than one in 10 students first think of teaching when applying to university in year
12, recent research on teaching career choice decisions has told us.

It has also highlighted how career guidance counsellors and traditional forms of teacher
education marketing have minimal impact on decisions to teach – unlike the teachers, friends, families and partners, who are highly influential.

However, despite all this research into motivations to teach, we are yet to find solutions to the steep and ongoing decline in teacher education applications over the past few years.

We want the best potential teachers in our schools but attracting them into a profession that is often blamed publicly for many of the ills of our education systems is a classic ‘wicked’ problem. It requires a cohesive national strategy, fresh thinking and the rigorous testing of potential solutions.

Promoting teaching as a profession is not something that should be left solely to those with specific areas of educational focus like the individual university courses or improving wages and conditions.

In March, the Australian Council of Deans of Education took a small step when it hosted a conference on how collaboration between governments, unions, education bodies, teachers, youth advocates and researchers is needed to improve the status of teachers.

One panel of graduate and would-be teacher education students discussed the difficulty of countering negative views when they were personally passionate about wanting to teach.

So, this week we have taken another step with an Australian first – the launch of a national, virtual roundtable and we are inviting university teacher education students to share their perspectives.

The Future Teachers Talk is encouraging these students – many of whom are likely to be closest in age and experience to current secondary school students – to explore the challenges and find solutions to inspire more students to teach.

In staged phases between now and late October, a multi-disciplinary team of business, education, innovation and psychology researchers will prompt the sharing of views on an interactive platform.

If we are to change negative public narratives about teaching then we need to start listening to all those who care about the profession.

Professor Tania Aspland is the president of the Australian Council of Deans of Education.

Originally published in the Sydney Morning Heraldhttps://www.smh.com.au/education/teachers-explore-the-challenges-to-inspire-more-students-to-teach-20190815-p52hk5.html 

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