Teacher specialist knowledge might connect education with (D)evelopment

I’ve been following remotely via the internet a ‘Knowledge for Development’ workshop at the German Development Institute in Bonn.

(c) Ericka Hidrovo

(c) Ericka Hidrovo

My particular interest is in education, which has been my specialist area for the last 12 years. This began with co-establishing a new maths education policy committee in 2002 (acme-uk.org) and progressed through contributing to the growth of a broader STEM education policy agenda in England during the last decade – I’m currently looking at the role, education and development of specialist teachers within STEM and other core curriculum subjects.

The last topic is particularly relevant to ‘Development’ (with a capital D) in the broader sense of the term.

The OECD published its 5-yearly TALIS 2013 global teacher survey results a fortnight ago today, about which I blogged recently WRT a Royal Society report on a vision for UK science and maths education in 2030. My focus in that piece was on subject specialist teachers – people who not only have the privilege of brokering specialist knowledge between themselves and their students, but who we rely upon to drive forward collectively educational and social reforms in the developing world and in deed parts of the developed world (I’m thinking of barriers to social mobility).

Take one illustration.

The availability of a fully trained and professionally-developed and -supported science teacher for a school in an educationally deprived part of the world could make all the difference to the learning and career outcomes of his/her students e.g. their understanding of basic scientific laws, their engagement with a questioning approach to ‘the facts’, their absorption of simple or even more complex attributes/skills linked to future employment opportunities in growth sectors.

Of course what we need more than anything is hard evidence of the impact of such specialist teachers through rigorous evaluations and controlled studies in exactly the places that need them most.