"(Live Mint) : Revamping teacher education- Unless average capacity of the existing teacher pool goes up, we will not see clear improvement in education for 20-25 years. • One of the few matters in Indian education on which there is substantial consensus is the urgent need for a complete overhaul of pre-service teacher education—that is, the B.Ed (bachelor of education) and D.Ed (diploma in education) college system. • The Union government has agreed to implement the recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed Verma Commission on teacher education. While some of the envisioned changes are inadequate, many fundamental changes are to be made; for example, institutional, curricular and regulatory. • The estimated average teaching tenure left before retirement for the existing population of teachers is between 20-25 years. So, even if pre-service teacher education were to miraculously improve immediately, unless the average capacity of the existing teachers pool goes up. • Some teachers through sheer determination tackle their own capacity issues, but for the vast majority, it becomes the key limitation to their effectiveness. The other equally significant challenge is the environment they operate in. Individual capacity and the environment also have a significant impact on motivation and engagement. If someone can’t do something, leave alone do it well, they inevitably become disengaged. • Even those (not all) who have a valid assessment of the issues of our teachers shy away from prioritizing the actions to help improve capacity of existing teachers. • First, it is the sheer scale and distribution. We have eight million teachers across a few hundred thousand villages and towns, with the attendant geographical challenges. Second, we must remember that they are all in full-time jobs, leaving little time to be invested in their own development. Third, they have differing needs, and even within that, a wide range. Fourth, they are adults with already formed priorities, views and personalities. They can’t be herded to a place and told what to do with any real effect. Fifth, the gaps between required capacities and the actual are vast as a result of the woeful teacher preparation programmes; this is not a situation which can be corrected by some narrow and superficial continuing professional development efforts. These vast gaps are in content knowledge of subjects and pedagogical matters, as also on overall social and educational perspectives, which deeply determine the way they play their roles. • All standard training approaches, with their centralized determination of curriculum, cascade model of training the trainers, rigid modules and modes of interaction, have been abject failures in dealing with the teacher capacity issue. In fact, the generally understood notion of training in itself is very inadequate. • What is required is difficult. It requires offering teachers multiple modes of learning as options, for example, workshops, in-school support, long-term projects and exposure visits. • It also requires creating platforms for peer learning and support with the proximate availability of experienced mentors. And all this must tie together in a coherent curricular framework. The only way to make all this happen is to have small, distributed, high-capability teams across all the districts in the country. That is very hard to put together and sustain. Even harder is to let the teachers determine their own path of development, which is the heart of the matter. This requires trusting the teachers. In our culture, this is harder than almost anything else. • Being very difficult is not a good reason to avoid this all too important of tasks. For the sake of the generations ahead, we must muster the grit to begin and sustain the effort. OTHER PRACTICE QUESTIONS

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