Students in the University’s School of Education may have an opportunity to have more exposure to their future workplaces sooner than they expected. Changes to the program will replace the current curriculum of the School of Education with one that would emphasize more hands-on training within the classroom. Considering the importance of education in Michigan’s changing economy, it’s vital that Michigan teachers are receiving a comprehensive education. And that while increased fieldwork is important, students should continue to receive the theoretical components of the curriculum. The School of Education should strive to combine increased experience with theoretical learning to produce teachers that will prepare a highly-skilled workforce for a Michigan economy dependent upon education.

The proposed program, which is scheduled to go into effect at the start of the fall semester, is called the Teacher Education Initiative. Deborah Ball, dean of the School of Education and organizer of the initiative, claims that the new curriculum would be modeled after current medical and nursing curricula, which place a greater emphasis on hands-on training. The intention of the program is to make teacher candidates more familiar with the realities of a classroom before they enter the profession. Though there is time before the program officially begins, Ball is hoping that the faculty of the School of Education will begin experimenting with initiating the program into their curriculum this semester.

The School of Education’s efforts to better the teachers it produces are admirable, especially during the current economic climate. Improved education at all levels is critical to ensure the success of an economy that will depend upon highly-skilled science and technology businesses in the future. And while institutions of higher education may play a more visible role in the increasing need for education, improvement is necessary across the spectrum of education.

Successful nursing and medical schools have shown that practical application allows students the chance to prepare for the professional world in a learning environment. Similarly, the increased focus on fieldwork that the School of Education’s revamped curriculum will encourage will provide education students with an invaluable experience. Teaching relies heavily on effective interaction with students, and earlier introductions to the environment will help to prepare future teachers for the reality of the classroom.

But the shift of focus to fieldwork shouldn’t make the School of Education forget about the importance of the theoretical knowledge that students are exposed to in classes at the University. This theoretical knowledge of teaching methods and the challenges facing public education will help new teachers to challenge the status quo and push for education reform. The School of Education needs to make sure that with all of the excitement about the new curriculum, students will still receive the vital class instruction that will improve their knowledge on the craft of teaching.

The state needs good teachers and improved education to pull itself out of its current economic turmoil. The University must combine classroom learning and firsthand experience to produce the most effective teachers that Michigan will depend upon.

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