John Ansell blogs the words of a recent teacher trainee:
As a recent graduate in secondary teaching, I have been invited to share my experiences of the teacher training I received.
I shall describe the cultural indoctrination to which trainee teachers are subjected and the flow-on effect this has on school culture and classroom learning.
I am aware of the risks involved in taking this action (my lecturers and classmates should have little trouble identifying me), but I hope that my example will encourage other teachers (and trainee teachers) to come forth and share their own experiences.
It is important that readers of this blog understand the hoops that trainee teachers are forced to jump through, and the limits on freedom of thought that are imposed from above.
Once upon a time education was about diversity of thought!
One of the essays that I had to write concerned the ‘roles and responsibilities of teachers and learners in the New Zealand classroom.’
The learning outcomes for this essay centred on biculturalism, te reo Maori and the historical, political, social and cultural influences on New Zealand schools.
Failure to satisfy the requirements for any one of these learning outcomes would necessitate a re-submission, and failure on the second attempt would mean failure for the course.
Frustrated by the indoctrination to which I had been subjected, I wrote critically about many of the issues we were expected to cover.
My intention was not to be provocative or incendiary, but to assess the issues in an objective, thoughtful and reasoned way.
When my essay was returned to me, I was shocked to discover that I had been given the lowest possible grade.
Even more distressing were the spiteful comments that appeared in the margin of my essay, accusing me of “monocultural ignorance” and of being “patronizing.”
The marker’s tone was defensive and censorial, as if I had no right to hold the views that I had expressed.
They were heresy I’m sure.
I was forced to resubmit the essay, exactly as they wanted it, expunged of all signs of a critical intellect.
It is a terrible thing to be conscripted into writing something that you do not believe, and for this to occur in a university environment is completely unacceptable.
Universities should welcome critical dissent, not squash it.
I don’t agree with all of the views of the teacher trainee. But views on Treaty issues should not be a litmus test for who can be a teacher.