10 SES 12 B, In Teacher Education, Age Matters and So Does Policy
Obtaining a quality teaching workforce has become a global concern as nations strive to meet increasing social and economic expectations. Moreover, comparisons of student performance nationally and globally expedite the competition. Possible solutions such as increasing the supply pool of potential teachers and making teacher education more flexible are the policy implications based on an OECD study of 25 countries (OECD, 2005). In Taiwan, teacher education is conducted as institution-based programs, offered for matriculates either at the undergraduate or graduate level. Given that, once maturate-aged graduates intend to participate in the teaching profession, they have to be enrolled in college or universities again even with their own professional fields. Realizing the difficult route, the purpose of this study is to explore the emerging teacher identity for this mature-aged group to appreciate their involvement in the teaching workforce.
The maturated-age group presents a promising source of potential teachers. An empirical study in the U.S. shows that older novice teachers, who were older than the age of 25, were less likely to leave low-income schools compared to their younger counterparts (Donaldson, 2012). Similarly, the group of postgraduates over 25 years of age constitutes a rich source of the teaching workforce in Australia, is characteristic of diverse professional expertise and altruism (Uusimaki, 2011). In practice, an Irish study suggests older teacher candidates above the age of 30 perform better in teaching practice than their younger peers (Heinz, 2013). Moreover, a synthetic work lists the strengths of older teacher candidates, including their intrinsic values and interests of teaching, their tendency to identify teaching as a mission, and their ability to cope with changes based on prior life experiences (Eifler & Potthoff, 1998). However, different from the atmosphere that mature-aged graduates are welcome to teaching in England, Australia, the U.S. and other countries, it is hardly conspicuous in Taiwan.
In the context of Taiwan, the provision of teacher education is limited to normal teacher universities/ colleges or verified centers for teacher education. In this case, only individuals matriculated in these colleges and universities are allowed to participate in teacher education. For those who left school, they could participate in teacher education through a screening test to take the post-bachelor education credit classes. However, these courses were eliminated gradually beginning in 2005 due to the decreasing enrollment at the elementary and secondary level (MOE, 2006).Therefore, mature-aged graduates have had very limited opportunity if they want to be a teacher in Taiwan. Arguably, these individuals may be forced to enroll in college or even the graduate study with an intention to join the teacher education since there is no alternative available for them to join the teaching profession.
Empirically, this mature-aged group distinguished itself from the relative young group in the potential to be a good teacher (Authors, 2013). With a national survey of all college graduates, the authors compared teacher education participants with age 30 as the cutoff. As the findings revealed, the group with age above 30 tended to make their own decisions to teach rather than others’ influence compared with the other age group. Moreover, with greater intrinsic values in teaching and seeing a teaching job a mission proportionately more, the group of above age 30 expressed themselves as more psychologically suitable for the teaching profession than their younger counterpart. Given that the variances between groups were statistically different, this present paper aims to explore the components that constitute their emerging teacher identity for matured-aged participants.
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