Should Barbados Teachers Be Required To Have A Bachelor of Education Degree? Amit Says No…

barbados schoolsThere may be individuals who may not, how should I say this, be up to ‘academic scratch’ or not as good at ‘chasing paper and acing exams’ as others. But why, you interrupt me to ask, should we let these ‘B. Ed.-less’ individuals teach our children?

Because (I apologize for beginning a sentence with ‘because’), these men and women may instead possess a desire and willingness to teach, as well as a love of teaching. Maybe they genuinely want to impart knowledge, wisdom and understanding on future generations, but for some reason or the other, cannot obtain this ‘B. Ed.’

Our friend Amit at Pull! Push! blog is upset with the Government’s latest move to raise teaching standards. I think I have to agree with Minister of Education Ronald Jones on this one.

Judge for yourself by reading Amit’s article Education and Teaching in Barbados

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42 Comments

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42 responses to “Should Barbados Teachers Be Required To Have A Bachelor of Education Degree? Amit Says No…

  1. J

    Maybe the Minister means that at a minimum teachers should have earned a bachelor’s degree.

    I know a fine teacher who has earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics/computer science (with first class honours) and a master’s in Electrical/Electronic engineering, but who has no bachelor’s of education, but who is doing excellent work teaching Information Technology and Mathematics.

    I would hope that the Minister would wish to embrace and encourage such people to remain in the teaching service and perhaps permit them to earn the a credential in pedagogy.

    If we as Bajans do not embrace such people other countries will (and that will be our great loss)

  2. Hi BFP,

    First, thank you for highlighting my post.

    Second, for the record, I am not against, opposed, or upset with regards to what the Minister is doing. After all, those folks know better than I. My aim was to present an alternate view regarding this B. Ed. issue.

    As I said near the beginning:

    “Back to business. I, speaking as a former student (actually, I’m still a student, trying to complete my Masters), find this both commendable and a bit worrying (although I’m sure the Minister meant well and has, first and foremost, the interests of both teachers and students, present and future, close to his heart. As such, he should be applauded.).

    But that still did not prevent me from thinking…

    The requirement of the Bachelor’s in Education (B. Ed.), is commendable because it should, in theory, ensure that individuals who want to teach (despite how difficult it is, and how little it is apparently appreciated), have been trained and educated in matters relating to such. In a word, they are, or are supposed to be, professional.

    Therefore, it should follow that they should be capable of delivering quality education to our young folk. Well this is absoloutely wonderful news. Maybe now, with that specialised academic qualification in hand, these teachers, dare I say, will be paid more for their hard work and effort. Better yet, maybe this will increase the academic performance of all students who are taught by individuals with a B. Ed.? Maybe.”

    I then went on to mention, essentially, that teachers without a B. Ed. could still teach and teach well, and that having a specialist educational qualification should not be the only mark of a teacher. I then wrapped up with the following:

    “So, as far as the B. Ed. goes, it’s a wonderful idea, but, should it be the only mark of a teacher? What about the individual him/herself, how they practice the art/science of teaching? Maybe teachers should instead study Pyschology and learn how to interact with students. Maybe.”

    Lots of ‘maybe’s’ and ‘on the other hand.’ I was merely trying to look at both sides of the coin. Which at times, can be very difficult.

    Cheers,
    Amit.

  3. Hi,

    Don’t know why my previous comment ended up in moderation.

    Anyhow, thanks for the link to the article, but I am not against Barbadian teachers being required to have a B. Ed. in order to teach. Nor am I upset with the Minister.

    What I am against/concerned with, is leaving those teachers who do not have it (B. Ed.), out of the teaching profession despite the fact that they may be, or may make, wonderful teachers. I believe that while a B. Ed. is important, the ability to reach students is just as important as well. Therefore, we should not rely solely on the B. Ed.

    Rgds,
    Amit.

  4. Anon

    I think Minister Jones is wrong on this one.

  5. Bush Tea

    To be absolutely practical Amit, the final decider of who should and who should not be qualified to teach should lie in RESULTS achieved.
    The real answer lies in effective and consistent assessment.
    There are many ‘teachers’ who are eminently qualified and who can even teach the BE degree program….. but whose results (read that as ability to maximize the potential of their students) are disgraceful.
    On the other hand, there are some with bare minimum qualifications who achieve results of epic proportions.

    This is a common sense matter, however since the Ministry seems incapable of implementing a meaningful assessment tool (probably out of fear that they too may be assessed …and found wanting…) the minister is now jumping up and down as usual with a ‘quickfix’ that obviously will NOT work.
    The problem with the Ministry of Education lies in their REFUSAL to manage by RESULTS. They would not even publish the results of the various schools, subject areas, overall system efficiency – nothing.

    If you manage without reference to results you are bound to fail.

  6. George

    …and I’ll bet that all the bankers and financial whizz-kids who screwed up the world economy earlier this year also had the appropriate degree(s) for their jobs

  7. BFP

    Hi Amit,

    We’ve found it in the spam bin. Who knows the mind of a warped PC and comment filtering programme? 🙂

  8. Concerned that he doesn't know what he is talking about..

    The statement from the minister makes it sound as if the only place they will accept a teachers certificate or degree is from Erdiston. I hope what he meant was that a teacher should have some type of teaching certificate or education degree from a certified program, college or university.

    If I’m going to teach maths, I better know about maths and not just have the degree to teach. There are varying degrees of what people are asked to teach, and you may not necessarily need to have spent tons of time in the classroom learning how to teach to be able to teach.

    What is going to happen to all the current teachers who have been in those positions for many years, who do not possess some type of teaching certificate and have done a great job without one?? are they just going to be left without a job??

    and by the way.. just because you have a teaching certificate or degree, doesn’t mean that you can actually teach..

  9. Bajan Bullets

    This is simply a matter of standards. If we allowed anyone with a “desire and willingness” to teach we would end up with a mess of inconsistencies and lack of quality, ultimately damaging our students. There are reasons that standards exist: they are not there to deter those with a desire and passion for the profession, they are there to protect those being served by the profession – in this case students. You correctly compared doctors and engineers to teachers. Can you imagine if we allowed every person who had a desire and willingness to practice medicine to become a doctor without qualification? Or a person with nothing more than a passion for tall buildings to be an engineer? Disaster! So perhaps we should all look more closely at that analogy and realise that standards are an absolute necessity in any effective profession, including teaching.

    Furthermore, a B.Ed. should not be considered a mere obstacle to overcome on the path to becoming a teacher. It is supposed to be a process of learning and development that takes an individual from being possibly a very good teacher to being an excellent teacher. So in that regards our focus should be on ensuring that the B.Ed. programs we recognize as ‘official’ are being structured and implemented in a manner that results in the teachers we actually want in our schools.

  10. Sargeant

    What’s wrong with having some qualifying standard for teachers? Simply because someone is a University graduate does not mean that the person should be a teacher. I am not advocating the wholesale dismissal of those teachers who may not have the required B.ED ( they can be granfathered) but I don’t see anything wrong in requiring new entrants to the teaching profession to have the required diplomas as established by the Ministry of Education.

  11. tstt

    Sargeant,

    I live outside of Barbados, I have a Master’s degree- not in Teaching. I don’t teach for a living, but I have been tutoring elementary and High School kids for the last 7 years or so. Should I have to get a B. Ed. if I wanted to come back to teach?

  12. reality check

    Bush Tea

    good points

    I am also in favour of students and other teachers rating each others performance and making constructive comments.

    In this day and age, would students at UWI be allowed to responsibly set up a site that allows such positive contributions or would the system of protectionism and elitism together with government sponsored censorship take hold and prevent the public from knowing.

    There are many independent sites around the world that allow patients, clients and students to rate their
    professionals.

    Inevitably some will rise to the top and some will fall to the bottom.

    If we are promoting improvement and/or excellence
    of every citizen then that is the price.

  13. Sargeant

    TSTT

    It’s commendable that you are sharing your knowledge with young people but the Ministry can set qualifying standards for teachers at the schools under its control. While your degree may be focused on a particular discipline a BEd. will cover particular aspects of Education that may not be covered in a General degree.

    Perhaps in your case teaching at private schools may be an option, have you considered that?

  14. tstt

    Sargeant,

    why should i have to put in time to get a Master’s degree and then have to put in another 4 years to get a B. ED. Why can’t the ministry accept that people with degrees just need to take a six month or a one year diploma in teaching. There is a massive shortage of teachers world wide. Large countries like the US and Canada are importing bajan teachers who have bachelors. When they get here, they are then expected to get the specialized teacher’s certificate.
    Do you remember when you went to school in barbados? You, at primary level, were taught by teachers who didn’t even have O’level certificates. And yet, based on the quality of your writing, seem to have turned out ok.
    Maybe the problem with the educational system in barbados is not the teachers, but rather the beaurocrats at the ministry and the children who are witnessing the “first worldization” of the country. In first world America, many schools are locked down on a weekly basis because of fighting between rival gangs. In first world America, black kids are dropping out of HS at close to 40% annually. Maybe bajan parents need to help more.

  15. Sargeant

    TSTT

    First if you remove your self from the discussion is it unreasonable for the Ministry of Education to require that aspiring teachers complete a BEd. if they want to enter the teaching profession? If teachers of 30/40 years ago did not have a formal University education why should we accept the same today?

    It is not about your qualifications (BTW I don’t think that you would have to complete a four year program if you already have a Masters) but about teaching. Although you may be a subject matter expert in a particular field what will you do when two weeks into your first class your students have seemingly lost interest? Are you going to put them all in detention? The best teachers that I had often veered spectacularly from the subject but I wanted to be in those classes as we were never “bored” but challenged to think “outside the box”

    I don’t know about the US but all teachers in Ontario have to attend “Teachers’ College” which is the equivalent of Erdiston before they can hope to enter the classroom.

    As to the drop out rate among blacks in the US that is a wider societal problem which I won’t get into here but perhaps there is a correlation between fractured family units and the number of teenagers who drop out of school.

    Time marches on

  16. Bajan Bullets

    TSTT your ignorance (in the academic sense of the word) is coming out in your comments. A B.Ed. is usually just a one-year full-time program (or similar) after your first degree, not another 4 years. Furthermore, your comment that after being taught by unqualified primary school teachers some still “turned out ok” is completely ridiculous. Following that argument, we should allow my unqualified grandmother who knows a little bit about medicine to teach our med students because some of them will still turn out OK . Finally, your comments regarding ‘first world America’ are disconnected from the issue at hand. We all recognize that bureaucratic inefficiencies need to be removed but how does that negate the need for standards?

    On a separate note, if you are personally teaching/tutoring students then you might find that you can actually become a teacher/tutor after exposing yourself to some education and child development theory – theory that is taught in B.Ed programs.

  17. Bajan Bullets

    Correction to last paragraph…
    “…become a *better* teacher/tutor…”

  18. Hants

    Every School teacher should learn some fundamentals about teaching.

    After obtaining a degree an extra year in a Teachers college should be a minimum standard.

    As Sargeant says, existing “unqualified” teachers can be grandfathered.

    The incentive to get the B.Ed is that it translates into a better salary.

  19. Bush Tea

    @ Bajan Bullets
    “This is simply a matter of standards. If we allowed anyone with a “desire and willingness” to teach we would end up with a mess of inconsistencies and lack of quality, ultimately damaging our students.”
    **************************************************
    Maybe the fundamental problem is this perception that it is about ‘standards’.
    What standards what?!!

    Is it not about results?
    If you just want ‘standards’ then Barbados is already probably in the top of the world standards in terms of qualified teachers across the system.
    I personally know many teachers (hundreds) and very few of the sample that I know lack academic qualifications.

    These are mostly qualified because of the financial incentives and systemic arrangements (via study leave etc) to become qualified.

    Despite this reality, the annual output results from our schools are scandalous. This is likely the reason that the Ministry hides the statistics from the public.
    …so how does it advance our situation to move the qualification level of our teachers from 85% to 98%? (just pulling figures out of the air in the absence of actual statistics)

    What we need to do is to identify the style and type of teachers who get results and reward and encourage that approach (whatever it is) and also identify and deal with the style and approach that does NOT achieve the desired results.

    That, my friends, is what teacher assessment should be all about.

    By ignoring the ‘measure and feedback’ approach and insisting only on academic standards for teachers, we are doing exactly what Bajan Bullets suggest we should not do – that is – allowing anyone with a “desire and willingness” to teach (as long as they can complete a free academic course) and so we will “end up with a mess of inconsistencies and lack of quality, ultimately damaging our students.”

    But we dislike management by results in Barbados because the wrong political, lodge, family or colour persons may emerge as deserving top performers…. and we can’t have THAT – can we?

  20. -Bajan Bullets-

    I don’t think that anyone would disagree with you that results are the ultimate goal. No one is saying that standards equals results. Nor is anyone saying that teacher training is the answer to all of our education problems. Developing standards is simply one way of protecting the unprotected (i.e. students) from potential harm – academic or otherwise. Standards are merely one small part in a holistic approach to an effective education system. In this particular matter though, the matter of teacher qualification, the issue IS standards. Teacher appraisal is another necessary and vital component but one that is separate and distinct.

    However you have raised an important point. How do we fix the entire system? How do we make the system work for our students? The answers are undoubtedly complex and far-reaching. But I am excited by the fact that we as a society are willing to ask these questions – it is the first step towards a solution. The government, through proper discourse with all stakeholders and experts in the field, must continue to take bold, forward-thinking and meaningful action in order to bring our education system into full working order for the 21st century.

  21. Bush Tea

    Bajan Bullets
    The above response identifies you as a top notch PR specialist who has the skill to define a major defeat as nothing but a strategic advance at 180 degrees.

    Why would a minister be given a speech which (indirectly) suggest that somehow the lack of qualification by teachers is a major factor to be addressed? was this just another episode of teacher bashing then?

    The truth is that the teachers are to a large extent one of the success factors of our education system. Indeed the record of local teachers who move to other jurisdictions show this quite clearly. we appear to have a ‘system’ problem…

    On the other hand, the Ministry of Education appears to be nothing short of a millstone around the neck of our education system. Here we have a bunch of bureaucrats whose only role appears to be to make the lives of school administrators, teachers and students as miserable as possible.
    …well that is Bush Tea’s perspective…… obviously I am wrong – and I would welcome appropriate correction.

    I would suggest that the top three steps in addressing the problem with education in Barbados are as follows:

    1 – Disband the Ministry of Education and replace it with a National Education Council comprised of twelve Principals selected by the Principals Association.

    2 – Publish all statistical results from all schools on a termly basis and set minimum standards below which School Boards will be REQUIRED to take specific actions to force improvements.

    3. -Get a minister of Education to administer government policy – not a football ‘administrator’

  22. Sing-a-song

    Bush Tea wrote “Despite this reality, the annual output results from our schools are scandalous. This is likely the reason that the Ministry hides the statistics from the public.”

    Can one then assume that Bush Tea works in the Ministry of Education and/or is privy to the statistics otherwise hidden from the rest of us? If he has the statistics on “the annual output results from our schools”, would it not be useful to share these with us?

  23. Sing-a-song

    There are few countries (if any) with more “standards”, money, infrastructure, experts, researchers, policy initiatives, student entitlements etc than the mighty USA. Yet (according to them) a high percentage of their students achieve only a low to moderate educational outcomes. However we are following their example.

    Makes sense to someone.

    by the way; some will learn well sometimes, some will not. Get used to it.

  24. skinteeth

    This is a very important point in any education debate. But we need to get back to what truly defines education. Is it merely academics or it is academics ++. Government can give a child all the best possible resources , but if there are deficiencies in other aspects of their lives, much of the supposed benefit is negated very quickly.
    Standards are necessary , but to what end? What benchmarks are laid out for the public to see the possible benefits for certification (other than possible higher salaries for teachers); eg is it to raise the 11plus marks or higher grades for cxc . If we were to accept what Bushtea said about “output results”, then clearly changes are needed. But well defined ones that includes the thinking of the bureaucracy.

  25. lets start with the bureaucracy

    We have a bureaucratic system bequeathed to us by the British that rewards silence and inertia. Those that don’t rock the boat and kiss the right a__ get elevated to a further level of incompetence but with more money and the ability to spend more money.

    These are excellent suggestions Bush Tea.

    Results do matter and if every bureaucrat was paid for what they actually do and contribute, 50% of them would be gone.

  26. rasta man

    What should be the qualification to be a politician???

  27. Bush Tea

    Sing-a-song
    Cuddear, why you don’t stop making mock sport at Bush Tea nuh? You know full well that a half-a-idiot like BT could not get a pick at the MOE too…

    …besides, how long you think a bushman would last in there?

    …Man I ain’t got no statistics, I does only open my eyes and look round the place…. every now and then things does fall off trucks…. the ones that land in the bush are mine LOL.

  28. Bush Tea

    Skinteeth
    If it isn’t already so defined, IMHO Education should be defined as;

    The process of providing the knowledge, skills, confidence and discipline that can empower each student to reach their own personal developmental potential -whatever talents that student may be fortunate to possess.

  29. Analyzer

    To: rasta man
    Just wondering, are you a real rasta man i.e. religiously? What qualifies you to be a rasta man?
    Or is that just a nick name?

  30. rasta man

    just a nick name.No offense meant

  31. rasta man

    Could ask the same question of you.Are you a real analyzer?
    What qualifies you to be one?

  32. Anon 5

    PiedPiper, aka Sargeant/Patrick Porter,

    Your mind will remain in the gutter forever. Pity there are no “John Crows” scavenging the gutters of Hamilton, Ontario.

    You can have the cheese with your 6 glasses of wine and the herb you smoke.

  33. Sargeant

    Diggit/Anon 5 etc.

    I am reminded of a few lines from a Judy Collins song;

    Where are the clowns?
    Send in the clowns.

    &
    Quick, send in the clowns.
    Don’t bother, they’re here

  34. PiedPiper

    You poor foolish person. Are you not even slightly embarrassed to make such an ass of yourself day after day? I do not live in Hamilton, Ontario, never have and have visited it in over 30 years. I do not smoke herb and have made my thoughts about those who do quite clear on this blog.
    I notice you can’t even reply to a post in the appropriate thread. I have not made one single post to this thread but this is where your silly self chose to leave a ridiculous cryptic message.
    You have convinced yourself that you are on some kind of a mission involving some sort of vengeance against Patrick Porter but really, all you accomplish is making yourself look like and internet “troll” with some serious mental health issue.

  35. Analyzer

    To rasta man:
    LOL, good one.
    What qualifies one to be an analyzer?
    I just have a lot of common sense and I’m a deep thinker but sometimes quite an airhead, so I guess it’s just a nickname too.

  36. rasta man

    Same hear. I think I also have a lot of common sense which is not common

  37. 143

    i enjoy teaching but erdistian is asking for you to be a teacher to do some of they courses and jones is making it very hard to get in the system now

  38. 42

    We must admit that having a Bachelors in any area does not make you good at anything. It makes you knowledgeable and reveals that you can study well. Our current teacher has been teaching all of the subjects in an area and she has confessed to us that she has a degree in a different area but that she was trained to teach these subjects and earned a Distinction. In addition, she takes us on trips – educational and otherwise and gets to know our families – and we know that is what makes a good teacher. In fact, a number of us have decided on teaching so that we can give back as she does. We trust that Minister Jones would not force her out of the classroom to pursue a Bachelor of Education to do what she already does extremely well. We will pursue the B Ed if that is compulsory so that we do not lose the opportunity to teach.

  39. iTeach

    If you want to be an accountant you do ACCA or some other certification, medicine, law, even now in the secretarial field you must have a Private Secretary’s Diploma, I am sick of people wanting the easy way. If you want to teach then you do a teaching certification..I have a BSc. and a BA and I still did the DipEd….let’s not fool ourselves….Bajans like the easy way and many turn to teaching when they can’t find another job…Trust me..I should know..But I wasn’t stupid enough to think that I could teach without any pedagogical knowledge..get trained..or find another job.

  40. Anonymous

    they should be required to take some psychology courses so they would have some empathy for students and learn about the institution about corporal punishment and how it was generated from slavery, When I was going to school some teachers used to say, well I already have my education so I dont care, and its still happening today, all book work and no knowledge on how to teach kids to be good citizens is not going to help students in the long run, thats why there are so many young people falling by the wayside.

  41. Anonymous

    A young man I know whose living in the US, stated when he was going to school teachers used to curse out students and tell them about their mothers, now he’s in the US learning, its amazing how teachers not only teach academics but ways to show kids about human behavior and why people act the way the act, and some kids are gifted but those gifts needs to be explored. Bajan teachers should be learning about Erick Erickson, Paigot, Gastalt, and all those behaviorts and see that kids behaviors come from their environment and parents. The system of rejection needs to stop, break the cycle of systemize rejection

  42. Anonymous

    thats what is happening in the US, not that I am comparing the US to barbados, because I think the bajan educational system is better than the US, but people with engineering and accountant degrees or psychology degree can teach and further their education if they want, because those other degree holders teach kids how to be more productive in life, and how to use their skills in whatever areas they are good at, to be successful, they learn options and outside the box, because some kids are not book smart but they have other skills that can create a meaningful life, one of these writers said his teacher took them on trips and got to know their families, that is teaching a child love, respect, acceptance etc, I hope they introduce some courses that will help new teachers explore kids skills and talents, and not only focus on book work, but just read a book to a child at least one hour of the day, and encourage kids to discuss about whats bothering them, and what they would like to see change in society.