War And The Army Essay, Research Paper
The Army visits this issue over and over again. What are the ingredients of a good commander; how do we train and ensure quality leadership; and how does a successful commander pass on his secrets of success to new commanders? The most able commanders are not necessarily the best instructors for soldiers about to take command because they may not know what made them successful and/or they may not be able to successfully communicate what they know.
As an evaluator of National Guard training, it is not only vital that I know the standards for the training, but I must also be able to communicate any teaching points that I wish to make. Being smart is not enough. I must be able to facilitate the unit, in their discussions, to talk about where they did well and where they need to make improvements. If I cannot help them get to that point, then the entire training exercise has been a waste.
This is why our training equally emphasizes knowledge of our craft and ability to conduct an After Action Review (AAR) . The skill is worthless without the knowledge and vice versa. Knowledge can be learned, but skill is more difficult since there must be some present before it can be developed. Just like some people have two left feet or are all thumbs , some people are incapable of speaking before a group of people (generally seen as a trait that is necessary for effective teachers).
Monday Night Football is a better known organization that practices this type of strategy. In the commentators booth, ABC has Al Michaels and Pat Summerall – Arguably, two of the best play-by-play announcers in football. Though it is televised, the folks in the box are seldom seen and must be effective at communicating verbally. Howard Cosell, in his day, gave color commentary to help sell the game. He was never a football player (subject-matter expert) or a coach, but knew enough about the game to talk intelligently about it. He was hired as a professional talker. Recently, Dennis Miller (the HBO ranter) was added to the MNF line-up because of his ability to turn a phrase and help sell the MNF program to viewers (which can be difficult if the game is not exciting).
Developing ability is difficult and very time consuming. Vice President Al Gore is promising to put 100,000 new teachers in the classroom (reminiscent of the 100,000 new cops in the street program of a couple of years ago that failed to meet its target). Is he talking about 100,000 teachers above what the universities produce each year? If not, his promise is pointless. If so, will they be trained in four-year institutions? This will not help the crisis in our schools today.
An attempt to provide stream-lined teacher certification programs to get teachers in short-handed schools run the risk of producing teachers that are even more inefficient than the ones that are being complained about now. If four years of college does not produce teachers with an ability to teach, how will a two-year program work any better?
Don t get me wrong, I am not saying that a four-year program is better than a two-year program. The quality of the education is what is important. The Army is a big violator of this. Their airborne school generally takes three weeks to teach a soldier how to fall from an airplane without getting killed (no, gravity is not taught it is assumed that the soldier understands that it works, whether or not they understand why it works). If, however, they send instructors to a foreign country to teach paratrooping to their soldiers the class only lasts three days. The end result is still the same: Soldiers exiting perfectly good airplanes before they are ready to land and walking off the drop-zone following their successful landing.
Teaching teachers how to teach is neglected. I am completing my master s degree this semester (can I get an amen !), but have not had a single class in technique. I do not have a teaching license, so maybe there is one class as an undergraduate that covers this Nevertheless, there is no emphasis in developing the ability to convey information.
Army evaluators are taught what an AAR is and then they witness a mock battle to test their ability to conduct a successful evaluation. The instructors participate in the AAR as the mock unit so that they can evaluate the new evaluator s performance. New evaluators must pass this test in order to graduate, and then they generally shadow a proficient evaluator in order to learn more. The student teaching model is suppose to test ability, but does a candidate who is ineffectual get recycled back into student teaching? It is most a hurdle that must be cleared and the height of the jump is unimportant.
The rush to increase standards on teachers and students; and the rush to increase the number of teachers in our schools is going to produce conflicting criteria that will make the teaching profession more regulated and less attractive to perspective educators. This will effectively reduce the size of the teaching force and precipitate another crisis that will have to be solved by more bureaucratic red-tape. The number of accredited schools will likely decrease while the number of unaccredited schools that train teachers will increase.
My valued opinion on this subject is: Colleges and universities should be responsible for turning prospective teachers into subject-matter experts. Technique courses would also be advisable. The school corporation where that new teacher is hired should be responsible for developing them into effective teachers.
Individual teaching techniques may work with some classes and not others. Some classes are more visual than others are. Another class may be more verbal. Often, a teacher of multiple classes finds that using the identical curriculum for all their classes does not produce the same overall results in each class. Altering the course to meet the students needs is a skill that is developed on the job.
The author complains that, despite an explosion of technology in the classrooms in the last thirty years, teaching styles remain fairly consist with those of the 1970s. The rise of technology has not ended and the rate of advancement will increase at an even more rapid pace in the future as new technology enables even newer technologies. What works today may not work three years from now.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.