This is how we prepare our teachers for the Smart Economy?

12 January, 2011

Here’s an extract from a piece in today’s Irish Times .  Comment is superfluous, except to say that here is another example of how reckless failure to effect change in our institutional structures is having deleterious consequences for the well-being of our nation. 

STUDENTS IN one of Ireland’s largest teacher training colleges spend too much time studying religion, according to a report.

Trainee primary teachers at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick also suffer from programme overload, it said – many do not have time “to critically reflect on their professional development and practice”.

The report from the Teaching Council – the professional body for teachers – said the time allocated for religion in the college was four times that for science.

While the report welcomed the fact student teachers have access to the Certificate in Religious Education on an optional basis, it was concerned at the amount of time allocated to religious education within the Bachelor of Education (B Ed) programme, in the context of the overall number of contact hours available.

For example, attention should be given to the fact that subjects such as science, social, personal and health education (SPHE), geography and history are currently allotted 12 hours each, as compared with the 48 hours each allotted to other subjects such as visual arts, religious education and múineadh na Gaeilge.”

The report is certain to revive controversy regarding the huge influence of the Catholic Church in teacher training. The certificate in religious studies is a compulsory requirement of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference for teachers working in Catholic-managed primary schools.

These comprise more than 90 per cent of schools in the Irish system.

Some, however, have questioned whether State-funded teacher-training colleges should still require all students to complete a course in religion.

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