Today, millions of students each pay gargantuan tuition fees to institutions across the country in their quest to attain a college degree. A college is known to be an institution of “higher learning”. With that its assumed that professors must be highly qualified, much more qualified than the teachers of the high schools that the students have previously graduated from. But is that really true?
Different states have different requirements for becoming a high school teacher. Generally, a bachelor’s degree is required with sufficient coursework in the content area that the individual would like to teach. There are a variety of tests required, usually being a basic skills test, a content-area specific test, and a teaching assessment.
It is also required that the individual passes through an approved teaching certification program. These programs are designed to to teach how to handle a classroom in various aspects, and more importantly teach “how to teach”. In addition to coursework, there is also required clinical hours in the classroom.
Compared to high school, college courses involve decreased instruction time while at the same time increasing the amount of material required. It is realistic to expect that professors must be more effective at teaching, and have therefore undergone even more extensive training than high school teachers.
To become a college professor you must have: a Ph.D in the field that you’d like to teach…and that’s it.
Are there any required teaching clinical hours? The answer is no. Any assessment of teaching abilities? Also a no. The amount of required education coursework is zero, unless of course you’re an education professor.
Most Ph.D students have served as teaching assistants at their respective institutions. However in majority of cases TAs are simply entrusted with the responsibility of grading assignments and at most answering questions in a small discussion section. Without a doubt, a Ph.D is a degree that requires great effort, difficult coursework in the content area, as well as abundant research. But should the responsibility of pas sing on more complex material at a faster pace be given to teachers who simply have not been trained?
The answer is a clear no.
Without any training requirements, what we see in our colleges today are plenty of brilliant minds with a great personal understanding of the material, but are absolutely useless at teaching it. Simply reading information from a PowerPoint presentation is NOT teaching. During registration period students stress over enrolling in classes taught by the 1-2 professors in possibly the entire department that are actually effective educators. It is unfortunate that it appears college boards are more concerned with the level of research these professors will bring to their institution (and even more concerned about athletics, but that’s another topic). The students and their education should always come first. This is our future.