Teachers as Researchers: Another Mark of Professionalism

On his Education Week blog, Marc Tucker argues that teachers should serve as the agents of education research, not just subjects of it. There is no argument about the need for research in the United States, but Tucker worries that most of it is done by academics not involved in the daily demands of teaching. Why not empower teachers to be the lead researchers for the profession that they so desire to see improve?

Here is an excerpt from Tucker’s comments:

The United States has by far the biggest establishment of university-based education researchers in the world.  But a number of countries, in Asia, Australasia, and Europe, train many more of their teachers in research techniques than does the United States.

I do not mean to suggest that they provide their teachers with the same level of mastery of sophisticated research techniques that we provide to trained researchers holding doctorate degrees, but they do provide their teachers with the rudiments of research methods, on a very large scale.

I would argue that the fact that their teachers typically receive basic training in research methods is very important.  In many of these countries, as I have pointed out elsewhere, teachers spend much less time in front of students than is the case in the United States, and much more time working with other teachers, mainly to develop lessons together, work collaboratively on development of more effective instructional methods, and perfect their systems for formative evaluation.  

Which is to say that teachers in these countries are viewed as primary agents of school improvement.

So it is no small matter that they have basic research skills.  Not only are they expected to work together in a disciplined way to improve their own practice, but they are expected to use their research skills to determine whether their efforts are leading to improved outcomes for their students.

Tucker is not advocating removing professionally trained researchers who take on detailed projects that full time teachers simply could not do, but he is advocating a system that sets up a structure for teachers to be more involved in research so that they can improve their teaching and improve the field of teaching overall.

Read the full blog and leave your comments here: http://bit.ly/1rAuHMQ.