On Certification

A guy named David Deubelbeis has a very good blog: http://ddeubel.edublogs.org/ and I agree with a lot of what he has to say about teaching, and he has some very good ideas for the classroom. I really liked his blog, but I’m going to have to disagree with something he said.  I feel  a little bad, because he does have more credentials than I do. He is a Master’s of Education with a TEFL emphasis. So he has a lot more certification than I do.  ( I”m still in the application, waiting and hoping stage of my Master’s degree)

However – I started reading on his poetry class idea post, and then because I liked it, I thought I’d read more from the blog, and got to this post: Hype that’s not my Type http://ddeubel.edublogs.org/2011/04/17/hype-thats-not-my-type/  and he talks about the new paradigm in teaching and how these are just hype and not part of the real teaching world.

The first myth he busts is that the world is changing so fast – and I agree with him “Education still is about people, communication, knowing, doing.”  I’m thinking – right on

Then he talks about testing, and I’m thinking – preach it brother  – testing itself isn’t evil, but it is important how they are used, and should be used as a disposable assessment of the learning process. Yeah.

Then he talks about information vs. content and says something really true: “No matter how quick you can google something or how perfect the retrieval of information. Students still need stuff in their head to mix and churn and access in the quiet of their mind.” and I’m reading this saying YES! I agree totally. Awesome

THEN he says: “The onus should always be on what a person can do, not what they did in a course . Credentials by default create barriers to real learning and to real discourse. They divide and create cliques”

And here I part ways.

Because I do think credentials are important, they do divide those that want to be professional from those that don’t care enough to do 100 hours online or take a month-long CELTA course, or even get a degree. Yes there are financial barriers, but I would say instead of getting rid of credentials, why don’t we make getting them more accessible to talented people through scholarships or grants?

ESL as a  profession, especially in Asia, have a serious problem with professionalism. Right now the demand for native English speakers is huge. In Korea, the hagwon or private academy business is booming, despite the governments efforts to put native English teachers in the public schools. Many of the teachers hagwons employ are not really teachers. They don’t have any qualifications other than they were born in a country that has English as a first language.  They are not professional (although many of the hagwon teachers I’ve met have been, and they really try to teach their students, and work very hard to learn more and learn how to teach)   My problem is that just because you can speak a language, and even more importantly speak correctly, doesn’t mean you can explain the language, the rules, or explain how your students can get their message out.

I am a teacher. It is my profession, and I’m very proud of it.  And it may be elitist of me, but I don’t think just anyone off the streets of America (or Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia) can walk into a classroom and teach English. And I don’t blame any school for asking for some proof that a teacher has the basics – and that proof is credentials.  I don’t think getting credentials, or a degree or going to a seminar or a training session is the end. No, these are just the beginning.

I ask a lot from my students. I expect them to do the best they can in the classroom. I think it is only fair that I do the best I can in the classroom, and that includes continuing my education, reading educational blogs, going to seminars, going to training weekends, and yes getting more and better credentials.

Other than this one paragraph that stuck in my craw, Mr. Deubelbeis’s blog is very good.


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