I was struck by the lead paragraph in a Chicago Tribune story yesterday (Board approves revamp of Ind. teacher licensing). It said:

The state panel overseeing teacher licensing has approved new rules Indiana’s state superintendent says will allow future educators to spend less time learning how to teach and more time focused on subject matter.

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that this kind of move is going in the opposite direction of where we need to go to help increase student achievement. I’m sure lots of people know a lot more information than me about the areas I teach. I just think the key to effective teaching is not the content information I have in my head, but the ability and skills to help students find the motivation within themselves to want learn about the subject matter. I don’t have to be an expert in that content subject in order to make that happen.

I don’t know much about science and math, but in the semester of teaching when I had a self-contained class of retained seventh-graders, I think I did a fairly effective job of helping engage and learn in those subjects — even though I was generally only a handful of pages ahead of them in the texts.

On the other hand, during my teacher credentialing program we had a person teaching us about ed tech who forgot more about technology than I’ll ever learn teaching us, and most of us were completely lost in that class.

As in most things, I’m not suggesting that it has to be an either/or position. There needs to be a balance. I’m concerned that what is happening in Indiana, and what might be happening in “alternative credentialing” programs, might have that balance out of whack.

The dictionary says the definition of power is “the ability to act.” Some say that information is power. I don’t agree. I think it’s what you do with that information is what determines if you have power — what actions you take. And, in the context of being an educator, it’s not the information I know that determines how much power I have — it’s my ability to share it, to help others want it, and to help them figure out how they can also get it on their own so they can be life-long learners.

What do you think?