I’d not heard of Teach First until Andrew Leigh referred to it. Put simply, the idea is to take bright graduates, give them a few weeks of training to polish their educational skills and then stick them into bad schools. The schools that they find it very difficult to get fully trained teachers to go to.
On the face of it this seems absurd: for as we’re constantly and consistently told, teaching is a profession, one which requires either a full degree in the subject or at minimum a one year post-graduate course after a non-education major degree. How could merely clever people pick it up in weeks?
Quite how well can they? Results from the American equivalent show:
…research on Teach for America that suggests these teachers outperform other starting teachers, and even the more sanguine evidence (eg. work by Jonah Rockoff and coauthors) has Teach for America teachers being no worse.
So we seem to have a situation where an absence of specific training in education produces better educators: or at the very least, ones that are no worse.
An excellent result I think all can agree: the policy implication is therefore clear, make teacher training a 5 or 6 week course, close the vast majority of the educating to educate system, save a great deal of money and possibly improve the education system, or at least leave it no worse.
And remember, we’re doing it for the children.