The following outline is the author's keynote speech in the First International Forum on Teacher Education, October 25-27, Shanghai, China. The full one has been accepted into the book: Nan-zhao, Zhou (Editor-in-chief): An International Perspective on Teacher Education:Teacher Education Reform, Teacher Professional Standard and School-based Teacher Development, Shanghai: East China Normal University Press (in Publishing, 2006). Professor Gu Ming-yuan, President of China Education Academy.
The Reform and Development in
Teacher Education in China
Beijing Normal University
The Chinese Teacher Education is now experiencing a transition. The symbols of the transition are:
Transition from the traditional normal education to the teacher education
It means the model of teacher education integrates pre-service education of teachers and in-service training of teachers. The traditional normal education is divided into pre-service education and in-service training, the pre-service education is a diploma education given by normal schools, colleges and universities, but the in-service training is organized by the educational Administrations and implemented in special educational institutions. And it has no uniform scheme. Now the teacher education has integrated the two parts and has got a uniform scheme, as is the requirements of teachers’ professionalization.
The concept of teacher professionalization was put forward by UNESCO and other organizations. 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers emphasized, “Teaching should be regarded as a profession: it is a form of public service which requires of teachers expert knowledge and specialized skills, acquired and maintained through rigorous and continuing study; it calls also for a sense of personal and corporate responsibility for the education and welfare of the pupils in their charge.” Otherwise, in 1986 Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy and the Holmes Group published "A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century." and "Tomorrow's Teachers," respectively, which pointed out, “ Only when teaching develops into a mature profession, can the quality of public education be improved.”
Teacher professionalization is the requirement of the times. Why do I say so?
The growth of students has its law to follow, though we do not know about the growth law of them, but as teachers we should know it, explore it and follow it. Only so, the effect of educating them is conspicuous, otherwise we will fail in educating them.
With the rapid development of science and technology, and the fast increase of knowledge, a teacher should have both high level of professional knowledge of his or her subject and wide comprehensive knowledge. So a teacher should have to continue studying to keep up with the pace of the development of science and technology, and guide the students to explore new knowledge.
Teachers need to know and master modern information technology, and put it into teaching practice to improve the quality of teaching.
The role of teachers is changing. Modern teacher-student relationship needs to be built on the bases of democracy, equality, understanding and trusting. Without right educational notions, or knowing the psychology of students, or accepting appropriate methods, such a relationship cannot be built. In order to realize this, teachers need to continue studying and master the professional knowledge and skills of education.
Transition from Closed System of Normal Education to Open System of Teacher Education
In the future, teachers are trained not only in teacher universities and colleges, but also in universities that are qualified to train teachers. Such a new transition is based on certain conditions:
The demands for teachers are basically met in number, but not in quality.
The occupation of teachers has certain attraction socially, and young people would like to be teachers.
The development of areas economy demands more human resources, so teacher universities and colleges are in need of increasing more non-educational courses to train more human resources including teachers.
In the past, teacher students were free of charge, and all the graduates were assigned to jobs by governments. But nowadays, they should pay tuition like other students. Of course, if they will take jobs as teachers, governments will be able to make some priorities to them, such as reimbursement of tuition, release of their loans and so on.
The change of the training system is not a one of form; it aims to improve the quality of teacher training.
Transition from the Old Three-Staged Normal Education to the New Three-Staged Teacher Education
The old three-staged normal education means: primary school teachers are trained in secondary normal schools; junior high school teachers are trained in three-year teacher colleges; senior high school teachers are trained in four-year teacher colleges and normal universities.
The new three-staged teacher education means: the secondary normal schools are gradually disappearing. The primary school teachers are trained in the three-year teacher colleges or four-year teacher colleges; the junior and senior high school teachers are trained in four-year teacher colleges and normal universities. And some of the senior high school teachers are required to attain to postgraduate level.
The existing problems are: since the primary school teachers are trained in three-year teacher colleges or four-year teacher colleges, they get higher diplomas and are richer in knowledge, but some of the prescribed basic skills for them are weakened to some extent. That’s to say, the necessary complex skills for them，such as musical instruments playing, singing, drawing, games and blackboard handwriting and so on, are weakened to some extent. And meanwhile, some of the secondary normal schools are blankly being upgraded to teacher colleges so that the quality of education in such newly upgraded colleges comes down. So the intrinsic features of primary school teachers should be kept and the blind upgrade tendency should be kept back.
In order to let some of the senior high school teachers attain to postgraduate level, the Academic Degree Committee of the State Council especially set a degree for school teachers, it is called Educational Master Degree in Subject Teaching. Now here I will give a brief introduction of the nature and requirements of this degree.
The educational master degree in subject teaching is a professional or occupational degree, which is different from the general academic degrees. The occupational degree is an applied degree just like MBA degree, engineering degree, law degree and teaching degree, etc.
Now in China, those who apply for Educational Master Degree in Subject Teaching are required to have at least a three-year teaching experience. Maybe graduates will be allowed to do this degree in the near future, for example, Beijing Normal University is doing a 4+2 degree experiment that is the same as Educational Master Degree in Subject Teaching. (4+2 means four-year undergraduate course and two-year postgraduate course)
A specialty degree is not set on the base of a course, but on the base of occupation, so this new degree is called an occupational degree.
This New degree is different from academic degrees in training model. An academic degree focuses on research, and it just requires the candidates to finish three or four courses, but the research thesis is the most important outcome. The Educational Master Degree in Subject Teaching focuses on courses learning, and it requires the candidates to finish 12 courses, but the quality requirement of its thesis is relatively lower.
At present, the application channels for specialty degrees are different. Candidates do the Educational Master Degree in Subject Teaching mainly in an on-the-job way for a period of 2-4 years, but they are required to study at universities in an off-the- job way for a whole year accumulatively. And the candidates are only required to sit for the Joint Examination given by the related universities; they needn’t take the National Postgraduate Entrance Examination.
Since this new degree program was launched in 1997, more and more school teachers have applied for it. There was an enrolment of 177 candidates in 1997, and an enrolment of 1390 candidates in 1998, there was an enrollment of 10420 candidates in 2004. Up to now, 13445 candidates have been conferred the Educational Master Degree in Subject Teaching. The degrees conferred have covered all subjects in primary schools and high schools.
Teacher education is an open system, so it’s necessary to implement a rigorous admission system. It’s also necessary to implement a teacher qualification system. Without a teacher qualification system, it means teaching is not recognized as a professional vocation.
A social occupation has an ironclad rule, that’s to say, only a professional occupation can have its social status and can be respected socially. If an occupation can be occupied by anyone, it can’t have a social status. If teachers have no social status, their vocations can’t be respected socially, then the education mansion in this society will collapse, and this society will not progress, either.