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GMIT TUTORIAL PAPER TEMPLATE: PROFESSIONAL STUDIES

Name of Student:
Robert Marron
G00304955
Article/Reading: The Double-Think at the Heart of Teacher Training

Gleeson, J. (2015, 11 3). The Double-Think at the Heart of Teacher Training. Retrieved from
www.irishtimes.com: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/the-double-think-at-theheart-of-teacher-training-1.2410462

1. CONCISE SUMMARY OF READING

In this opinion piece published in the Irish Times, Professor Jim Gleeson of
the Faculty of Education and Arts in the Australian Catholic University,
Brisbane, writes about what he sees as a disjuncture between the initial
and subsequent phases of teachers' education. Prof. Jim Gleeson is a
former senior lecturer in education at UL and member of the Teaching
Council of Ireland.
He opens with revisiting his oft-repeated quote that there can be no
meaningful change in Ireland without changes to assessment. The author
believes that the students' own experience of schooling reinforces the
notion of summative assessment being the most important aspect of the
education experience, "Overdependence on external summative exams
promoted teaching to the test and rote learning".
Once working in a school, newly qualified professionals are inevitably
socialised into the culture of their profession. Teachers and Teaching,
(2015) found student teachers to be less convinced about the practicality
and feasibility of junior cycle reforms after school placement.
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The teaching councils thinking avoids the ITE experience in the same way
that second-level teachers remain oblivious to their students' primary
school learning experience. The ITE sector is partly responsible for the
disjoint between contemporary evidence-based thinking about teaching
and the practice of teaching in schools.
One of the key questions in this opinion piece is, "Does the teachereducator prioritise teacher education activities in spite of their poor
currency in both schools and the academy?" Prof. Gleeson notes that the
State invests significantly in ITE, with the HEA-commissioned Sahlberg
report recommending establishing collegial institutes to improve the
research capacity of our education departments.
The author concludes that we must look critically at the disjuncture
between the initial and subsequent phases of teacher education and
establish greater coherence. The current stalemate, which is injurious to
teaching, is not an option.

2. CRITICAL REFLECTION

At the beginning of the article, Prof. Gleeson notes that in light of recent JC
debate, no meaningful change can occur without changes to assessment
in schools. If repetition can be seen as a benchmark for truisms, then this
statement must be gospel. While he does not state this explicitly, the
message seems to be that if we continue to value a student's educational
capital based on CAO points, then there is no incentive for anyone,
students, teachers, or parents, to move away from a rote-learning
methodology and towards a more holistic, active learning environment.

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Stephen Levitt, professor at University of Chicago, often defines


economics as the "study of incentives" (Levitt & Dubner, 2005), how
humans respond to incentives and what motivates them. In this article,
Prof. Gleeson is examining the assessment process as the sole incentive
for those in second-level education, and this is where I feel his article falls
down.
From the opinion piece, it seems that Prof. Gleeson is examining the
second-level education system as a homogenous monolith, where
everyone works towards the goal of summative assessment. It is my
assertion that there are so many mitigating factors in the contemporary
secondary school, that for the majority of students and teachers, CAO
points are not at the forefront of their concerns.
In the national context, each school is a part of its community, and as
such should be responding to the needs of that community. It is folly to
assume that the Lesson Street Institute of Education could respond to the
needs of the community of Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, no more than
Carrickmacross Patrician Brothers High School could address the needs of
students in a different community.
The fact that schools are part of their individual community is recognised
in Section 15 of the Education Act (1998), which notes that the role of a
school's board of management includes a duty to,
"uphold... the cultural, educational, moral, religious, social, linguistic
and spiritual values and traditions which inform and are
characteristic of the objectives and conduct of the school"
(Government of Ireland, 1998)
Additionally, to be socialised within a secondary school may not be as
negative as the author insinuates. As mentioned, each school is specific to
its locality and there can be many pitfalls in entering a school with ideas
to revolutionise the educational process that may be have been meeting
the needs of the community successfully for many years. Having worked
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as a teacher in an academy in Abu Dhabi, UAE, it was important to


become socialised to some extent within the academic body of the school,
as working to one's own agenda, even with the best intentions, can easily
become disruptive to the school body and destructive in the long term.
The OECD report, ICT(S) and Socialization, notes that "school and teacher
practices (must) contribute to positive self-efficacy beliefs and motivation"
(Vekiri, 2008). In this situation, it is beneficial for the teacher to become
socialised within the school in order to better relate to the students in
order to promote self-efficay.
Prof. Gleeson, in concluding that "there is a disjuncture between the initial
and subsequent phases of teacher education" and that we need to
"establish greater coherence". It stands to reason that as a teacher
embarks on further education during their career, the easier one's job will
be. Evidence-based methods of teaching, as espoused by GMIT, create an
environment where teaching becomes easier over time as students
continue to be intrinsically motivated through feeling included through
taking ownership of their learning. However, the Croke Park Agreement
created an environment of austerity and cuts, where teachers no longer
feel safe in their position, where the ASTI notes that teachers will work an
extra 33 hours annually, with a redeployment scheme for teachers surplus
to requirement (ASTI, 2016). With this blow to morale, it is difficult for
teachers to go to the expense and effort of furthering their teacher
education. In short, as Ciaran Surgue notes in his reply to the opinion
piece,
In relation to assessment wagging the curriculum dog as the clich goes, I
would propose that assessment wags the teacher. Never before has a
teacher's work been so analysed, particularly in the case of young
teachers, the droighead scheme, the journey to CID, and the CAO pointsrace in particular.
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The CAO was set up in 1976 as a radical solution to create a method of


application and acceptance to third level institutions that was impartial
and based on nothing more than what was considered to be a student's
academic ability. According to their mission statement, their core values
are to be "Reliable, Impartial, Efficient, Self-funded, Proactive, Accessible,
and Leading (CAO, 2015)."
A group charged with assessing the current CAO system found that,
"Complex data analysis systems, centring on pupil test and
examination results, have been designed with the aim both of
informing the public on the quality of education available in
individual schools and of assisting teachers to help pupils improve".
(Assessment Reform Group, 2009)
The downfall with this method is that because, with few exceptions, it
relies solely on CAO points, the priority of any student with hopes of
attending third level institutions is to score as highly as possible in a
limited number of summative assessments at the end of one's secondlevel school experience. Additionally, it facilitates a myopic psudoassessment of a teacher's performance based on the Leaving Certificate
results of their students when in reality there are so many additional
factors that create great teachers. Where this environment exists, it
provides an incentive for teachers to jettison their best teaching practices
in order to achieve results through teaching to the exam.
With this in mind, it is important to note that while the author is of the
opinion that teachers will teach to the exam, from what I have observed in
the GMIT DTE course, I do not believe that student teachers will follow this
route when in employment. I have observed in other teachers and
experienced myself that active, positive, engaging teaching styles not
only create better learning environments for students but also better
working environments for teachers. While the further education of
teachers in employment of course has its merits, I do not believe that the
teachers of the future will follow the negative course laid out in Prof.
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Gleeson's opinion piece.

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3. LIST OF REFERENCES
Assessment Reform Group. (2009). Assessment in Schools - Fit for Purpose? London: TLRP
Institute of Education.
ASTI. (2016, 11 20). www.asti.ie. Retrieved from Pay and Conditions, Croke Park
Agreemnet: http://www.asti.ie/pay-and-conditions/conditions-of-work/croke-parkagreement/
CAO. (2015, 11 17). Mission and Values. Retrieved from www.cao.ie:
http://www2.cao.ie/otherinfo/CAO%20MISSION%20and%20VALUES%202013.pdf
DES. (2011). Board of Management of National Schools Constitution of Boards and Rules of
Procedure 2011. Athlone: Department of Education and Skills.
Gleeson, J. (2015, 11 3). The Double-Think at the Heart of Teacher Training. Retrieved from
www.irishtimes.com: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/the-double-think-atthe-heart-of-teacher-training-1.2410462
Government of Ireland. (1998). Education Act. Dublin: The Stationery Office.
Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2005). Freakonomics, A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden
Side of Everything. New York: William Morrow.
Vekiri, I. (2008). ICT(S) and Socialization: The Role of Schools and Teachers. Oslo: OECD.

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