Interview process needed for student teachers

If teachers are unsuited to their profession they will diversify into other fields resulting in lost resources to the State.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said a screening process should be established for those hoping to undertake teaching courses to determine whether or not the prospective student is suitable for the profession. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor made the points during a recent Dáil debate.

“Good teachers must have excellent communication skills and must be equally good with people. As an ex-principal I have seen numerous teachers coming through the system who are unable to cope with the demands that teaching puts on the individual – socially, emotionally and educationally.

“The list of things that teachers must show an aptitude for is endless; music, foreign languages, sport and the arts, to name a few. They must be creative, as well as academic, have a love for children and have a presence within a classroom, with a personality that is bright, cheery and optimistic.

“In the interest of determining that the right people qualify from teacher training college and ultimately have a long and fulfilling career in the education sector, consideration should be given to the introduction of a screening system, similar to other countries.

“In Finland, students hoping to attend teacher training college are tested, through interview, for communication skills, willingness to learn, academic ability, and motivation for teaching. This places the focus firmly on ensuring that students have the right skills and aptitude for teaching.

“It is in the interest of potential teachers, students and State resources that this sort of system is put in place. Too often I have seen teachers, who were unsuited to the profession, diversify into other fields as they found it difficult to cope with the demands of the job, with the result that their teacher training skills become a lost resource.

“In examining this issue we cannot ignore the lack of males in the teaching profession. The CSO Women and Men in Ireland Report 2011 indicated that the teaching profession is 73.3% female. Undoubtedly, this has a negative impact on children, many of whom lack the influence of positive male role models. We must be creative in our thinking in a bid to turn the tide and to encourage more men into the teaching profession.”

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