So should a teacher have good qualifications?

Our current government are very keen that teachers should have “good degrees”, and be specialist in the subjects they teach.  Obviously all the children would then become charming, clever and highly motivated with no problematic personal circumstances,  and every single one of them would get a string of A* grades….

Oh, it’s not quite as simple as that, you say? Well, it’s clear you’re not in politics!

I have mixed feelings about this issue.  A friend of mine (not at my current school, in case anyone starts trying to identify themselves) has, he will readily admit, nothing special by way of qualifications, and a degree in a non-school subject. However, he is the most stunningly good teacher I have ever worked with, and I have seen him teach two different subjects inspirationally. He’s certainly naturally a much better teacher than I am, though I look a lot stronger academically.

Sure, there are some teachers out there who don’t know their stuff well enough. Not that having an appropriate qualification always guards against that –  a first class degree in Medieval History, for example, won’t allow you to be a knowledgeable teacher of the American Civil War unless you really put the time in – although your degree would make you “good” according to the government’s ideas.

Likewise, making people teach outside their subject comfort zone isn’t smart (so why do we ask Biologists to teach Physics, and vice versa unless they are happy to?)  But that comfort zone isn’t always defined by our formal qualifications. Although I mainly teach my “real” subject, Maths , I’ve taught others at various times quite happily, because they were things I actually understood, and was enthusiastic about. As against that, if you made me teach GCSE Statistics, although I know the material backwards, I doubt I’d be any too inspiring because it bores me to tears!

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