A few of my friends are joining the Teach for America staff after graduation. Teach for America’s mission is to ensure that low-income students have access to teachers. They recruit college graduates and train them in an accelerated program before placing them in low-income schools.The program varies by region, but is usually about 5 weeks long. While many of my professors from UCLA’s Department of Education support Teach for America’s mission to improve education for low-income students, they disagree with Teach for America’s idea that anyone with a college degree can effectively teach and that becoming a teacher only requires a short training program.
The Teach for America debate makes me wonder: if you are an expert on a subject, are you qualified to teach it? Or does teaching require additional skills of its own? Almost all of my college professors have PhDs as well as published research and books in their field. Yet, not all of them are great teachers. In fact, some even left me so confused after lecture that I had to spend time learning the material on my own. Personally, I would have to agree with the latter that to teach a subject well, it takes more than understanding the material yourself, but special skills that require time and practice to develop. I have a hard time believing that can be taught in just 5 weeks.
I think it’s similar with developing educational games. Not just anyone who is an expert in math can create a game that successfully teaches math skills in an engaging way. As AnnMaria explains, teaching math is a lot harder than most people think. Lucky for us, AnnMaria has a PhD and MA in Educational Psychology and has taught math at every level from middle school through graduate courses. Meanwhile, Maria was previously a college instructor and has experience with blended learning with her own children. Diana also has a background in education. But, even still, we recognize the value and importance getting input from teachers actively working in the classroom – which is why we also work with full-time educators as consultants to help develop and vet our game content.
What do you think? Can anyone with a degree in a subject successfully teach it? Or is teaching an art of its own? Let us know what you think in the comments!
On the right is Jennifer, she’s an AMAZING teacher. On the left is Ronda, she’s in the WWE. If you’ll be in New Orleans this weekend for Wrestlemania, come to our meetup.