Ah, teachers – the imparters of wisdom on the next generation. The Platos mentoring the future Aristotles. But, next month, as the classrooms fill with restless children, fresh off their summer vacations, a teacher’s hardest job will be to get any of them quiet enough to receive any such pearls of wisdom. Add to that the fact that it’s 2017 and children’s attention span is as extensive as the lifespan of a Snapchat, teachers have a tough crowd to face.
Starting this year, however, a compulsory teacher training course for all public primary school teachers in Buenos Aires, aims to combat this problem. The course – part of the Government’s Think Teaching, Anticipate Practice program – will see 10,000 teachers take part in a week-long course, starting next Tuesday February 14th. As the name suggests, it seeks to hone in on the essence of teaching, and will focus on teaching practices, as well as how to hold students’ attention and concentration.
In terms of the practicalities, the teachers will gather in 22 schools across the city, where each group of 25 to 30 teachers and principals will be assigned a trainer. More than half of the 240 total trainers come from School for Teachers, an official teacher training center, while the rest, other professionals within the field of education, were hired especially for the course.
This isn’t the only change to the current system. According to Clarín, the Ministry of Education has designed a range of initiatives aimed to provide “continuous training”, of which this specific course is just one element. Indeed, the government website, which states that teachers will analyse and develop proposed lesson plans and activities during the course, goes on to say that the program will “continue developing throughout 2017”. Teachers will be reviewed as they begin to implement the techniques from the course in their classrooms, with the results being published in a report next December.
With any luck, the course should go some way towards tackling specific problems, both in the country’s education system and in wider society. A recent UNICEF report for instance, entitled “For every child, a better start” stressed the importance of early development in children, criticising the fact that almost 80 percent of children in Argentina have no formal education before the age of four.
Another study carried out by English NGO Fundación Varkey found that 80 percent of young Argentines list the lack of access to education as a major concern, and that 29 percent believe improved access to education and better quality teaching is one of our best tools in breaking down social divisions and uniting people. Meanwhile, Inés Aguerrondo y Guillermina Tiramonti, authors of “The future is already here, but not for Argentine schools: What’s keeping us behind and what is the future of our education?” write that if the education system is to be reformed, teachers need to be able to equip children will the skills and knowledge relevant to modern day life. This is being done already, at least partially, as schools teach technological skills and awareness, development of core life skills, real-life problem solving.
The upcoming course, which is aimed specifically at primary school teachers, and will cover topics essential to all-round development such as computational thinking, sexual education, and development of children’s independent thought, may be just the right remedy.