Sunday, September 11, 2011

Capacity Focus, 10: A suggestion for further equipping our educators through a Dip. Ed.

Here in Montserrat, we have a new Director of Education, and he has changed how CXC/O Level results are reported.

As a result, we learned that 25% of the cohort of 5th formers -- as opposed to the percent of students offered to sit the specific exams who passed them (usually considerably higher!) -- were able to obtain at least five CXC's or Ordinary Level "passes," including Math and English. The Director said that these are the ones who are demonstrably trainable for the sort of workforce our region now needs.

The result was that many members of the public were stunned, and even angry: our educators are failing! The teachers can't teach! The school is in a mess! Etc, etc.

Actually, this is an IMPROVED result over what typically obtained over the recent years.

Just, since -- as this is what counts for long term economic performance -- we are now looking at the full set of those who are in fifth form after five or so years of secondary education. So, we are now looking more specifically at the overall performance of the school, not just that of those seen as "bright enough" to sit exams.

Not a pretty picture. 

And sadly, that is not just for here, it is apparently fairly representative of the region.

That points to the need for effective diagnosis and provision of individualised second chance secondary education that has to detect and correct the gaps in our education base, so that students can now take the time to fix the problems and move up to a level that makes them ready to take part in the economic transformation our region so desperately needs. (And, I am not at all sure that "number of CXCs" is the best metric for that achievement; though, the regional secondary exams are an important, widely accepted yardstick that has to be reckoned with.)

Similarly, it points beyond itself, as it is manifest that 5th form standard is no longer good enough as a base for the skills we need if we are to thrive in the decades ahead. And, traditional 6th form is simply too narrow.

So, I have long proposed that we need an Associate Degree programme that can be bridged to -- that is itself a foundational programme of studies to ensure that a good base is in place! -- from a 5th form base, then will carry us to the half-way point of a standard four year bachelor's degree programme. Some such Associates are essentially half-degrees, and make it easy and affordable for people to access the first stage of a bachelor's degree through a community college. Others would be more or less terminal in themselves as applied courses of study, serving as training for various technical and paraprofessional fields.Some of these could even serve as broadening studies for people qualified in other areas to a higher level, but who are looking to get a wider, more marketable or useful skill base. For instance, how many of us would like to pick up some basic business administration or multimedia production skills, or agriculture, or the like?

My angle on all this is, of course, equipping people for effective Christian service and leadership in and beyond our region; through an Associate Degree programme of about 60 - 64 Credits that would complement other studies, or could be done on its own.

Such a programme -- as the "pillars" in the diagram below will show -- would contain a technical "tent-making" skill component, a general leadership and community service skills component, and a discipleship, Bible/Theology and issues component, leading onwards to some focus in an area of concentration and an integrative, capstone project with significant independent learning:
However, we come back full circle.

For, to effectively develop and implement such a programme, and as well to upgrade the skills of our educators to deliver a more effective secondary education system, we are looking at a second programme, designed to further equip a critical mass of our educators.

The logical programme for that is a graduate diploma in education, Dip. Ed., in the context of a professional Masters in Education, M. Ed., one based on bridging studies, a general Grad Cert in Ed and a Specialisation Cert, both one Semester-equivalent.

A research module would then lead on to the M.Ed, but that is not the primary focus just now.Just, we need to know where the design points, and a Master's Degree is currently a hot educational commodity in the region. So, affordable access would open up a considerable market.

In terms of basic design, we could do:

In terms of content for the Diploma component, we could look at, say (just as a preliminary suggestion):

Level I Cert. Ed, ideas (15 Cr):

Survey, Phil & Ethics of Education, 2: timeline highlights, key ideas, dynamics/ models /views & key cases, issues, duties of care and challenges

Survey, Devt'l & Edu Psychology, Caribbean Context, 2

Princs + Praxis, Design & Delivery of Content & Skills, 3: key ideas (& background), dynamics/ models/ approaches/ cases, issues, duties of care and challenges, also benchmarks of "best practice"

Princs + Praxis, Edu Organisation & Administration, 3

Princs + Praxis, Edu assessment, research & quantitative methods, 3 (statistics to be a bridging module)

Seminar I, Micro-teaching & multimedia presentation practicum, 2

Level II Cert. Ed, ideas (15 cr):

Curriculum, Programme & Course Design & Development, 2

Strategic Management & Policy in Education, 3

Specialisation /Independent Work A, 3

Specialisation/Independent Work B, 3
Education Research Methods, 2

Seminar II, micro research practicum, 2

Such a programme should be easily reachable for colleges, Ministries of Education, Seminaries etc. using a blend of online access, micro-campus learning centres based on existing institutions in the community, schools or training departments, and for especially the onward Masters, access to campuses for the in-campus module preparatory to doing one's thesis. The ongoing e-book revolution would easily provide significant access to resources, but strategic centres would probably need to put in place significant reference and periodicals resources.

In particular, the Caribbean Grad School of Theology acting in partnership with various agencies, could cover such a programme.

Nor, would we have to wait until all things are in place before starting. Once we have a reasonable framework, and agreed articulation, the initial modules in the Grad Cert I could begin to be offered, even as standalone professional development workshops with credit banking.

(A similar strategy can of course be used for the more foundational and/or skills based components of the envisioned Associate in Arts, Concentration in Caribbean Christian Service, AACCS. And the basic programme architecture as illustrated is applicable to other fields that would be strategic, such as business or public administration or environmental management, etc.)

So, the logical question (as usual) is: why not now, why not here, why not us? END

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