Who’s Teaching the Teachers? — from chronicle.com by Elizabeth Alsop

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Last fall, the academic career coach Jennifer Polk conducted an informal Twitter poll: How many of you, she asked her followers, received any meaningful pedagogical training during graduate school?

Replies ranged from the encouraging to the mostly dispiriting, with one doctoral candidate noting that the only training the program had offered took the form of “trial by fire.” Just 19 percent of the 2,248 respondents said they had received at least “decent” training — a number that, however unscientific, is also symptomatic.

This statistic reflects something that many of us could confirm firsthand: Teaching remains undervalued in the context of doctoral training and the profession at large. The result, by this anecdotal reckoning, is that less than one-fifth of aspiring college teachers are effectively taught how to teach.

The American Association of University Professors estimates that over 70 percent of all faculty positions are non-tenure-track, so these are teaching, not research, appointments.

Ennobling as such rhetorical constructs may be, they obscure not only the very real labor of teaching, but the fact that teaching is teachable: something that results not from divine, Dead Poets Society-like bursts of inspiration, but, as in other career fields, from study, apprenticeship, and practice. There are any number of books — including Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do, John Bean’s Engaging Ideas, and Cathy Davidson’s The New Education — that offer excellent advice for college instructors.

It’s also worth noting that the resistance to addressing pedagogy in graduate education may be practical, as well as philosophical: Teaching someone to teach is hard. Like writing, teaching is a craft, learned not just in a single class, practicum, or workshop. Rather, it’s a recursive process, developed through trial and error — and yes, by “fire” — but also through conversation with others: a mentor, a cohort, your peers.