The Future of Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Some Do's and Don'ts in Teacher Education

Jaap Van Marle, Open University of the Netherlands (The Netherlands)


Being a teacher in pre-university education (and, for that matter, secondary education in general) is no popular job in the Netherlands. The profession of teacher has a relatively low status, it is associated with hard work, and the salary (although not low) is considered too low in relation to the strenuous character of the job. Consequently, within Dutch universities the number of students who chose to become a teacher is low. It is absolutely clear that this unpopularity of being a teacher in the Netherlands ties in with a large number of socio-cultural and societal forces. Consequently, the institutes for teacher education can by no means be held responsible for the fact that so many students do not want to become a teacher.  At the same time, however, this does not imply either that the way in which teacher education in the Netherlands is given shape is completely irrelevant. In my view, a system change is in order.

Essentially, we face the following two problems. First, programs for teacher education in Dutch universities are not popular as such, and, second, the drop-out rate of starting teachers is high (25% within 5 years).

In my presentation I will discuss that both problems relate to the way in which teacher education in the Netherlands is given shape. In addition, I will take the position that teacher education should be structured in a completely different way. The bottom line will be that training on the job, over a number of years, should constitute the core of the study. In my view, induction over a number of years is essential to teacher training. In addition, the institutional training should not only be much shorter, but it should also be integrated in the study of the subject the student has chosen (mathematics, French, history).

 At present, teacher education in Dutch universities is nearly always completely separate from the primary study the student has chosen. Students have to finish their ‘regular study’ first and it is only after having finished their MA (i.e. after 4 years of study) that they may start with the program of teacher training (which takes one year).  This latter program has the status of a second master. Clearly, this structure does not attract students who consider it odd that they have to do a second master in a department that is completely separate from the department where they did their BA and MA. In addition, this structure does not offer students a sufficient training on je job: the induction stage should take much longer than the teaching practice that is part of the program of teacher training.


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