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Steven Voehl's Podcast

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advanced Degrees for Teachers

I was reading an article carried in the Asbury Park Sunday Press yesterday that someone in my family had come across and clipped for me. The meat of the article was trying to make an argument against compensating teachers with higher salaries for completing advanced degrees at the masters or higher level. The article was quoting conservatives who claimed that virtually all research that they had at their disposal on the subject had shown that teachers with advanced degrees showed no more student achievement in their classes than teachers with only a bachelor's degree. The article went on to try to sell the notion that the public was wasting millions of dollars paying teachers for higher educations.

Reading the article, I was having a "You've got to be kidding me" moment. As the article stated that the majority of teachers already had advanced degrees, the author was missing the point entirely. The effect on the classroom when teachers have higher degrees is that the teachers who do not have advanced degrees, and their students, benefit also. A teacher does not work in a vacuum in a classroom, but in a collaborative environment where all good teachers are reflecting on their best practices and sharing that knowledge with other teachers. The knowledge that teachers with master's degrees possess is shared with their colleagues on a daily basis, raising the bar for all of them.

I am currently completing a master's degree in educational technology. Sure, some extra money is nice, but the main reason that I am putting myself through this work is so that I can bring new ideas and learning paradigms into the classroom. I am educating myself with technology literacy skills so that I may bring that knowledge into my classroom and share it with my students. I am doing it to be a better teacher, regardless of whether or not someone who writes articles for a newspaper, and who has never spent a day in a classroom teaching, agrees.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, I agree with your viewpoint wholeheartedly. People constantly (and sarcastically I might add) question my decision to pursue teaching in this current economic atmosphere. As you wrote, it's not about the money. It should be about a passion that delivers new knowledge and ideas to students.

    Moreover, shouldn't teachers be setting an example to their students? By eliminating or discouraging educators to pursue higher degrees, a clear message is sent to students. This message will tell them that settling for the status quo is acceptable and that they really don't need to aspire to a higher level.