The Importance of Core Beliefs

Jul 29, 2011 by

Delia Stafford
Haberman Foundation

Going back as far as 1958, Dr. Martin Haberman, UWM, and his colleagues began searching for a way to predict who would be an effective teacher. They learned over the years that “selection is more important than training”. If you get the right people, training can be the rest of the story. How is this possible?Why is it valuable to be able to predict who will be a good teacher? Why not just find a willing person and teach them to teach? Here are the reasons:

Traditional teacher prep programs do not change, affect or alter novice attitudes or their core beliefs. There is no evidence that traditional teacher education programs will change anything at all about the characteristics, values, or personality traits of those who graduate. Individuals who are racist, sexist, rigid, paranoid, anti-intellectual, humorless, uncreative, guilt-inducing, and dictatorial when they enter a traditional program will undoubtedly be the same way when they graduate. It is not fair, it is unethical, and it is cruel to inflict teachers with these and other anti-learner characteristics on children.

Poor students suffer the most from poor teachers. Advantaged schools with advantaged children are more likely not to suffer the indignities of individuals whose personality traits and behavior patterns victimize children. However, in schools where children are disadvantaged and vacancies are plenty, there is a greater likelihood that individuals ill-suited to teach any child will end up teaching the children, who, because of lack of support systems outside the school, are the most in need of excellent teachers inside the school.

Their options may not include afterschool tutoring, field trips to museums, fathers who are professors or programmers and mothers who are doctors or lawyers. Few of the children in some districts have online in-home computerized libraries, email & CD ROM’s, books that interest them or safe places to explore nature.

Instead, sadly, many poor children have outdated books that no one else wants, adults outside the school who model abuse and neglect instead of stimulation or nurture. Too many have violent television programming droning on in the background. Many decent families in poverty try desperately to provide whatever supports they can, but it remains absolutely true that for the majority of children in urban poverty, school is their last and best chance for a better life and a shot at the American dream.

Good teachers are the key to better schools. Every day 15 million children who live in poverty come into the classroom — right past the principal’s office, past the counselor’s office, past the nurse or the social worker. All day long, they’re with teachers. For this reason, the quality of the conversation exchanges, the way students are challenged, the interest that teachers build, and the way they respond to students is pivotal. We know how challenging this is. They may come in belligerent, daring someone to teach them one thing.

At the Haberman Educational Foundation, we know that selecting teachers who have the core beliefs found in the research of Dr.Haberman, is imperative. We have empirical data which extends decades. Recruiting, training, and keeping a good teacher for each child, no matter how badly behaved, is not something we will do “if we can find the time”. It’s a matter of life and death. Urgent!! And until every educator responsible for hiring teachers for the children fully understand the importance of this notion; we will continue “leaving children behind”. They subsequently become the “no hopers” of America. Shake and bake and we helped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7,000 students dropped out of school today.

You won’t read it in the news or see it on national television. For shame!

Haberman Foundation

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