"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, July 4, 2014

It Is Important to Listen to Teachers

There are supposedly groups that represent teachers. There are teachers' unions in the United States and the Philippines has the Alliance of Concerned Teachers as well as the Teachers' Dignity Coalition. The proper scientific way to hear teachers' concerns and conditions is a survey because there remains the question of whether teachers' groups fully represent the profession. Unfortunately, the Philippines does not participate in OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS 2013). The United States fails to meet the required participation rate but the responses are large enough that the data may actually be worthwhile to report. Nonetheless, taking a look at this survey can still inform us about teachers. For one, the survey provides what questions we may need to ask our teachers. The following captures a summary of the survey for teachers and principals (The data and figures presented here are copied from TALIS 2013):

The TALIS survey covers more than thirty countries (Malaysia and Singapore are included).

With regard to teachers, it appears that the majority is female and the average age is around 40 (which means most teachers have 15 years of experience). From the UNESCO data, teachers of secondary schools in the Philippines are no different. One big difference, however, lies in the number of pupils per teacher. While TALIS has an average of 24 pupils per teacher, the number for the Philippines is much higher, 35. The data for principals are equally interesting. It is clear that the United States differs from other countries with regard to a large number of principals (93%) not having teaching obligations.

The training a high school teacher receives is also worth a look:

It does seem that at least one in five teachers has not received specific training on the subject that they teach. This question is important to ask of Philippine teachers especially with the introduction of the new K+12 curriculum. How many of the teachers have actually been trained on the subjects that they are asked to teach is important in assessing the capacity of an educational system. Teachers also need continuing education to keep themselves updated. The United States seems to be leading here compared to the average of TALIS:

More than 80 percent of US teachers participate in at least 8 days of courses and workshops. In terms of working hours, US teachers spend an average of 45 hours per week (27 hours are spent in teaching):

A high school teacher in the Philippines spends about 22.5 hours per week on classroom instruction, which is less than those of US teachers (27), but more than the hours spent on average across the TALIS countries (19). Now, the above are just background information. TALIS actually asks questions that go to the heart of a teacher's impression of the profession. The following are sample questions:

Based on the responses of US teachers, about 90% are actually satisfied with their job. A similar percentage also believes that they are capable. However, when asked whether they are feel valued, only 34 percent think so. These are of course questions that likewise need to be asked of teachers in the Philippines....

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