We Are Not Unprepared Teachers!

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“Has the undergraduate English major curriculum adequately prepared you for a career in teaching?...The answer to the first question above is no, and not just because requirements for the English major do not include teacher training” (Lemire 12-13).

Ok, well, Mr. Lemire, I would just like to point out that although the English major in of itself does not include education classes, that any student who intends to be an English teacher, must take an extensive amount of education classes.  Yes, he is right that “interpersonal, and political challenges of teaching are not abilities easily extrapolated” (Lemire 13), but it’s not like education students get no practice.  There is extensive observations, practicums, and of course student-teaching.  It’s not like we are just being thrown into a school with no experience.  Lemire claims that “not a few people come into teaching with little or no training” (Lemire 20), I am sorry, but I am going to have to disagree.  Granted, there is always more one can do to prepare themselves for the future.  But he acts like us English education majors are just hanging out, doing nothing to work towards our career choice.  I think most of us are very much aware that “there’s only one way to find out [if teaching is right for us]: teach” (Lemire 19) and we are working very hard to get the practice and experience we need. 


Hold on... I don't have my book to double-check this, but if I recall this chapter correctly, Lemire is specifically talking about "the undergraduate English major curriculum" -- not about all the *other* courses that you take in order to get certified.

Some private school systems don't require teachers to have education degrees. At the private Catholic school where I went, I was taught history by a man with a Ph.D.... I don't think he had any educational training, but he had military training. I remember him chewing us out because some students were goofing off during a fire alarm, and he lectured us that he had seen people die because they didn't take training events seriously. That really made me pay attention to what he had to say (and this was long before the Columbine massacre made everyone think of schools as dangerous places).

I was also taught physics by a retired nuclear submarine admiral... I don't think they'd have kicked him out for not having a certificate. (He was a *fantastic* teacher, and I teared up years later when I read a poem his daughter wrote about his death.)

But I think Lemire is actually agreeing with you -- warning people who *aren't* in education schools that professional teachers do all the extra preparation work that you mention. But again, I don't have the book with me at the moment. (If it's any consolation, he also has quite a few gripes about my career choice... one reason I chose this book is because he raises numerous ideas that I might not raise myself.)

If the objections he raises don't apply to you, or they only make you want that career choice stronger, then the book is still useful because it makes you understand your own choices even better than before.

Maddie Gillespie said:

I have to say that I agree with you on a certain level. I realize that english education majors are often, but not always, required to take additional courses on how to teach. However, what about someone who only recently graduated from college, looking for a job, and the only one they can find is in a backwater town that seems stuck in the twentieth century? I don't think this little rinky-dink school's administrators are going to fuss about someone not having a teaching certificate. I can only imagine the face on this newbie's face when they're faced with a bunch of young eyes, all of them thinking about how to eat their new teacher alive.

Greta Carroll said:

Thanks for the clarification Dr. Jerz, he probably is only refering to the English classes. However, anyone who is going to get certified is going to have to have both content and pedagogy, which he seems to be overlooking. Granted, if you teach at a private school, one doesn't need to be certified, but I think they are probably more people teaching at public schools than at private. Later in his interview with a teacher, he quotes her as saying, "If you want to be a good teacher, don't be an education major. The best thing you can do is be really good in your subject" (Lemire 34). And once again, maybe he is simply talking about either majoring in Education or majoring in English, but it seems to me the majority of people would have to be both. And Lemire seems to be addressing the chapter mainly at them, and not at the rest of us. I also think he should be a bit more clear that he is only talking about those who are not certified.

Update... I just looked up the biography of my physics teacher, Edward Metcalfe Peebles, Rear Admiral, United States Navy at the Arlington National Cemetery website, and it turns out he did in fact get certified as a teacher. Just giving credit where it's due.

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