The battle being waged by the Education Dept., the VSTA, the VTU and the Headmasters association over the qualifications issue is rather mauseating. Over recent years the Department has adequately demonstrated its incompetence, but the VSTA's late effort is rather pathetic. The VSTA seems to have divine faith in the letters Dip. Ed. and TSTC. As if one years training, in the first case involving a lot of theoretical nonsense, and in the second case the study of damaging authoritarian teaching methods, produces teachers who are significantly better than those who have not taken these courses.
It can be argued that having no teacher is better than having a bad teacher, or as the VSTA would argue, no teacher is better than an unqualified teacher. But those who can decide whether a teacher is good (qualified) or bad (unqualified) have not been asked. They will not be. They are the school children who are obviously in the best position to judge.
But in the war of words waged by the Department and the VSTA the schoolchildren seem forgotten. It is time that the Department did something that would help rather than hinder education e.g. abolish its own centralised, authoritarian control of education; and the VSTA should concentrate on trying' to implement schemes that would improve the quality of teachers rather than having "qualification hunts". Meanwhile let the kids decide who they want to teach them.
The causes of teacher militancy should be sought in the increasingly "trade union" character of their associations. As we all know teaching is poorly regarded as a profession by the public at large and its practitioners. The people who teach are those who miss out on the Scholarships and/or do pass degrees especially in Arts. The attempt to force a certain exclusiveness onto the teaching profession is, of course, not so much an attempt to raise the actual standards as to raise the standing of teachers as professionals in precisely the same way as the system of guilds sad apprenticeships raised the social standing of artisan callings in early capitalist times. An effect of this may, of course, be that better people go into teaching but it does not seem that excessive intelligence is required so much as the personality for getting the uninspired material across.