Church Teachers’ College: THE R. IN
A. SHIRLEY INSTITUTE FOR EXCELLENCE TEACHER EDUCATION & LEADERSHIP
THE INAUGURAL RENFORD SHIRLEY MEMORIAL LECTURE IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP:
ADVANCING THE JAMAICAN TEACHING PROFESSION
Presented by Professor Alvin G. Wint February 17, 2014 St. Matthias Chapel CTC: Mandeville
The Inaugural Renford Shirley Memorial Lecture in Educational Leadership: Advancing the Jamaican Teaching Profession Introduction Colleagues and friends it is my signal honour to present the inaugural Renford Shirley Memorial Lecture in Educational Leadership. I have chosen as my topic “Advancing The Jamaican Teaching Profession” because I believe that Renford Shirley could, were he not an individual disinclined to seek credit and adulation, lay as much claim as anyone else to leading in the advancement of teaching as a profession in Jamaica. As is well known, there are several key features of a profession. One is that it is a vocation founded upon specialised educational training. Two is that its purpose is to supply objective counsel and service to others in the public good. A third is that it is enshrined in licensing regulations that control entry and exit and exert discipline on members, in the interests of the public good. In medieval times, only three professions were recognised, namely, divinity, medicine and law. Over several centuries many vocations have become recognised as professions. Typically, milestones in the development of professions have included:
an occupation becoming full time
establishment of a training school
incorporation of training into university educational systems
establishment of associations of members
introduction of codes of ethics
establishment of licensing regimes
The development of teaching as a profession within Jamaica has historically focused on the expansion of specialised training, coupled with a steady expansion in the use of specialised training as the criterion for employment as a teacher.
Development of Teacher Training in Jamaica Those of you attending the inaugural conference of Jamaica Teacher Educators on October 24, 2013 will have heard my colleague, and Renford Shirley’s colleague, Professor, the Hon. Errol Miller, give an excellent, comprehensive presentation on “Sixty Years of Teacher Education” in Jamaica. Among other themes, including those of gender and social stratification and political Page 1 of 7
independence of the teacher education system, he traced the expansion of teacher education in Jamaica from the output of four single-sex teachers colleges training elementary school teachers in 1953 with a total enrolment of about 300 students, to the current teacher education system, which includes ten public colleges, one public university, two private universities, at least two private colleges, the regional UWI and off-shore universities engaged in the training of over a thousand teachers annually. The incorporation of teacher education within the University system, beginning with the creation of the Department of Education at the UCWI in 1952, with admission of the first diploma students in 1953 to students holding subject specific bachelor degrees, was an important step in the incorporation of teacher education into the University system, which is a typical milestone in the development of a profession. An interesting feature of the development of teacher education in Jamaica is how early the process began, but also the significant gaps in the development process since this early beginning. Thus, Mico College was established in 1835, as the first teacher training institution in the Western Hemisphere. During the remainder of the nineteenth century, three other colleges were established, namely Bethlehem in 1861, Shortwood in 1885 and St. Josephs in 1897. During the first half of the twentieth century there was no increase in the teacher training capacity in Jamaica, but since then there has been a significant expansion in capacity, both with respect to an expansion of dedicated public teachers colleges; and with respect to teacher training within the public community college system that developed during the 1970s, and the private tertiary system. This process has continued to advance with the most recent inflexion point being the Ministry of Educationâ€™s decision that the entry point to teaching at the primary and secondary school levels is now a bachelor degree. As we speak, discussions are being held within the tertiary system about the modalities to ensure the effective implementation of this new entrance requirement. While there is a general consensus that specialised education is the requirement for entry into teaching, this consensus has been least activated at the two extreme points of the educational system, namely, early childhood education and tertiary education. Jamaica is still grappling with the challenges of the full incorporation of early childhood operations within the formal educational system, and the tertiary system has had a long history of undervaluing the role of teacher education. At the tertiary level, however, I should point out that this position is changing. In 2006 the University of the West Indies developed a strategic plan for the period 2007-2012. One of the planks of this plan, which was heavily influenced by the head of the then Instructional Development Unit on UWIâ€™s St. Augustine Campus, was that greater focus would be placed on professionalising teaching across the University, and one of the ways this focus would be demonstrated was by training lecturers in current approaches to pedagogy. Page 2 of 7
In 2008, under the leadership of the Office of the Board for Undergraduate Studies which had responsibility for implementation of the teaching and learning theme of the strategic plan, UWI’s instructional development units at Cave Hill, Mona and St. Augustine (note, that these units are now called Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) jointly developed a programme of university teacher certification. This process led to the introduction of a Post Graduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning, which became a mandatory training requirement for new lecturers who had not received previous training in pedagogy. It was gratifying to note the enthusiasm with which lecturers and administrators entered this new programme. Indeed, programme participants included not only new staff members who were mandated to participate, but many long-serving staff members who chose to participate. This process excited many of us involved because we were strongly of the view that one should not assume that because someone had expertise in a subject matter this made them good teachers. We believed in the concept of teaching as a profession that requiring specific training. We also felt strongly about the need for the expansion of the scholarship of teaching and learning within the University system, and that far too many of our staff members employed antiquated approaches to teaching that did not take into account advances in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Specific courses in pedagogy represented one mechanism for focusing on more modern learning and assessment approaches within the Academy. More and more universities are beginning to incorporate teacher training as a requirement for new members of staff. I believe that this process will continue and expand in Jamaica, and that current efforts to incorporate the early childhood sector fully within the educational system will also continue and ensure that individuals teaching at this level are appropriately trained and compensated. This process, coupled with the full incorporation of teacher education within the University system, will complete the training phase of establishing teaching in Jamaica as a profession, but there remains another important component, which is the need for an effective licensing system for teachers.
Development of Teacher Licensing in Jamaica A key element in the development of a profession is the notion that it involves a vocation that requires specialised training, that in the absence of this training individuals can provide harm to an unsuspecting public, and, therefore, as a consequence some mechanism is required for monitoring entry to the vocation. One of the challenges confronting the transition of teaching to a profession is the notion that teaching is intuitive, and indeed, that it is even easier to teach than to act. Who has not heard the line: “those who can do, those who can’t teach, and those who can’t teach consult.” It is against the background of the potential danger to students of poor teaching that countries around the world have begun moving to a process of licensing Page 3 of 7
teachers in a manner similar to the licensing processes long used in other professions such as medicine, law, engineering, accountancy et al. Ten years ago, an educational transformation task force presented its findings on mechanisms for transforming the Jamaican educational system and recommended the introduction of several new approaches, including periodic school inspections, specialised leadership training for school administrators and the licensing of teachers. It is against the background of these recommendations, and the clear need for a licensing regime as a part of the advancement of teaching as a profession that recommendations are currently being made for the legislative creation of a Jamaica Teaching Council that would have, among its responsibilities, the mandate to license teachers. Let me state the obvious, which is that this process has been unnecessarily controversial. There is a consensus, within the Government of Jamaica, within the Jamaica Teachers Association, and across Jamaica that a process of advancing the professionalisation of teaching by implementing a licensing system for teachers is a positive development. But there is also a consensus that the current version of the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill is flawed, and needs revision. Let me also declare interest. For the last several months I have served on the advisory body charged by the Minister of Education to assist in the implementation of the legislation to govern the Jamaica Teaching Council. This body was formed after the bill was drafted. The Body is in full support of the current consultation process. I believe that several of the concerns raised by the Jamaica Teachersâ€™ Association in its island wide consultations, and by others, are legitimate concerns, and I and others, have indicated that they need to be factored into the revised version of the bill.
Council Composition In particular, concerns have been raised about the composition of the proposed Council. The tradition of professional regulation is that it has been self-regulation. Consequently, in many professional regulatory bodies the majority of the membership is comprised of members of the profession. Thus, the medical and legal councils in Jamaica comprise a majority of doctors and lawyers, respectively. This is quite different from processes of institutional regulation, where the regulated are seen as been in positions of conflict with the regulators and so no regulated entity participates in the management or oversight of the regulatory function. Thus no current banker sits on the board of the Bank of Jamaica, nor capital management executive on the board of the Financial Services Commission, nor utility manager on the board of the Office of Utility Regulation. At the same time, increasingly with professions, the public good interest in effective regulation is so compelling that governments feel a need to be involved in the regulatory process. It is in this vein that around the world governments are becoming more heavily involved in the regulation of professions. I, and others, Page 4 of 7
believe that in Jamaica, we need to strike a balance in which the majority of members of the Jamaica Teaching Council are professional, licensed teachers, while also incorporating a representational role for the Jamaican Government, which the public hold accountable for the quality of education, and for important stakeholders such as the Jamaica Teachers Association, parents and churches.
Assessment of Qualifications Another concern that has been raised relates to the role of the JTC in assessment of the qualifications for entry to the profession. I, and others, believe that it is critical that the JTC not duplicate the functions of our well established teacher education system. Consequently, I believe that the JTC should only become involved in assessing the appropriateness of teacher qualifications in circumstances where individuals from outside the Caribbean region are applying to be licensed as teachers in Jamaica.
Disciplining of Teachers Another concern that has been raised relates to the role of JTC in disciplining teachers. I, and others, believe that the disciplining of teachers should continue to be the responsibility of the school boards to which they are employed. At the same time, as is the case with other professions, the regulatory body needs to become involved in circumstances where there is clear evidence that a teacher is not “fit and proper” to continue in service, or where his or her action has the potential of bringing the entire profession into disrepute. It is important that the types of offences that bring the profession into disrepute be clearly identified, and that there are clear processes of natural justice to ensure that the hurdle for denying a teaching a license, and thus the ability to teach anywhere in Jamaica, is very high, and not subject to capricious action.
Penalties for Teaching Without a License Yet another concern relates to the circumstances and penalties associated with teaching without a license. The current version of the bill creates monetary and custodial penalties for teaching without a license, including teaching individuals in one’s home. I, and others, believe that greater clarity is required in this area. A hallmark of all professions is that there are penalties associated with purporting to practice the profession without an appropriate license. In the early stages of the development of a profession, there are typically challenges with defining the contours and benefits of professional practice. Because so many believe that teaching is intuitive, it is important to protect the profession, and the many students who can become victims of poor teaching, by ensuring that individuals without the requisite training do not hold themselves out to be professional teachers. At the same time, extending the possibility of financial or custodial sentences to someone who helps a relative or friend’s child with homework after school in his or her home, or even in a workplace homework centre, is clearly inappropriate, even though such a construction could be interpreted from the current wording of the provision in the draft bill on the disallowance of teaching without a license. I believe that the bill needs to be Page 5 of 7
worded to penalise individuals, who without the requisite license, establish, within their homes or elsewhere, schools in which a curriculum is taught on a full time basis.
Concluding Thoughts I believe that the licensing of teachers is an important element in the process of advancing the professionalisation of teaching in Jamaica. I also agree with those who contend that the current version of the JTC bill is badly in need of revision. But I also believe that it is critical that the concerns with the current bill should not dull the enthusiasm for the implementation of a sound licensing system. I also believe that encouraging continuing education and rewarding effective teaching should be important components of the new infrastructure, and that the Jamaica Teaching Council should conceive of its promotional role with as much vigour as its regulatory role. I am further of the view that we should avoid the temptation of viewing the introduction of a body to assist in the professionalisation of teaching as the only component in the transformation exercise. Recall that the transformation effort also includes an inspectorate of schools and a training college for school administrators, designed to be other important elements in the effort to improve educational outcomes within the country. As we memoralize Renford Shirley, I believe that he would readily see the importance of finding common ground between the concerns of teachers who properly see themselves as expending considerable intrinsic energy to improve educational outcomes, and, accordingly, wishing to self-regulate, and those of a government concerned about assuring an educational system in which each student has a fair opportunity to benefit from a high quality education. After all, Renford Shirley was the epitome of the student’s teacher and the effective college administrator. He spent his entire career as an educator and loved every moment of it, going beyond the call of duty to ensure that every student with whom he made contact had the opportunity, and the resources to learn, even if it meant that he was the individual contributing to that student’s resource pool. I did not have the pleasure of spending time with Renford Shirley, but I came to know of him through his son, Professor, the Hon. Gordon Shirley. An important part of Gordon’s desire to return to Jamaica as soon as possible after his distinguished academic performance in the most prestigious US educational institutions was his goal to contribute to the development of his beloved country, and to spend quality time, in the autumn of their lives, with his beloved parents, Renford and Jesse Shirley. I think the entire country of Jamaica can say today, mission accomplished. His love for country was nurtured by the development role he had seen his parents pursue. And in seeking to spend time with them he was simply reciprocating the love that they had showered on him. Gordon tells the story of his father’s support when he fathered his first child Debbie, at a relatively young age, and was not sure about how to cope with this new role. Mr. Shirley turned up in Mandeville to provide the quiet support that his son needed at this important point in life. He was a family man, par excellence. I wish to recognise Page 6 of 7
his family for their interest in continuing his legacy. His wife Jesse Shirley and daughters Dr. Suzanne Shirley and Anne Shirley have played an important role in supporting this project. Anne, in particular, deserves commendation for her role as chief conceptualiser and implementer. It really does give me the greatest pleasure to have had the opportunity to present this inaugural lecture in honour of Renford Shirley, on a subject he was passionate about, and spent his entire career pursuing, the advancement of the profession of teaching in Jamaica.
Alvin G. Wint February 17, 2014.
Professor Alvin Wint, BSc, MBA, DBA Professor Alvin Wint is Professor of International Business and Special Advisor to the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) with responsibility for External Relations. Prior to this appointment he was Pro Vice Chancellor & Chairman of the Board of Undergraduate Studies. He has also served as Head of the Department of Management Studies at the UWI Mona Campus. Professor of Intl. Business Special Advisor to the Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies
He holds a BSc. from UWI Mona, an MBA in Finance from Northeastern University and a DBA in International Business from Harvard University.
Professor Wint has been an expert resource person for the United Nations and is a former consultant to the World Bank. He is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Jamaica National Partnership Council and he serves on the boards of the Jamaica Producers Group, NCB Jamaica Limited, the Caribbean Policy Research Institute and the Planning Institute of Jamaica. He is Chairman of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Management of Shortwood Teachersâ€™ College, and a former director of the Bank of Jamaica, Jamaica Promotions Corporation and the Jamaica Exportersâ€™ Association. The R. A. Shirley Institute for Excellence in Teacher Education & Leadership was honoured to have had Professor Wint present the Inaugural Renford Shirley Memorial Lecture in Educational Leadership.
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