10/28/2019 06:41

42 Years of Moderate Change

Back in 1977 the first Star Wars movie was released with the conceit of being Episode IV. In the same year I was deep in the process of gaining the certification which would allow me to teach high school mathematics. I knew math and enjoyed it. What I knew even better and enjoyed even more was computer programming. My conceit was that I could share that pleasure with students if I learned the techniques of teaching.

In 1977, Wisconsin did not yet have separate categories for teachers of computer knowledge. (Math teachers taught computer science and business teachers taught data processing.) Back then School of Education required future math teachers to take courses in the history of mathematics and the history of education but not, so far as I could tell, in the practice of teaching.

After 42 years, the trilogy of Star Wars trilogies is finally completed with the release of the ninth episode. In 2019 the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction identifies the bare minimum of teaching knowledge that anyone should have to be in charge of a classroom, even a short term substitute.

The DPI website (https://dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/licensing/types/three-year-substitute) says "substitute training must include all of the following:"
• Basic school district and school policies and procedures.
• Age-appropriate teaching strategies.
• Discipline, conflict resolution, and classroom management techniques.
• Health and safety issues, including handling medical emergencies.
• Techniques for starting a class.
• The culture of schools and the teaching profession.
• Working with lesson plans.
• Working with children with disabilities, including confidentiality issues.

In actual reality that is a succinct list of exactly the training I wanted and never received -- those items plus how to test and grade fairly. I am happy to see the practice of teaching given a more central place, but it comes four decades late for me.