Who is it that is teaching new teachers to write lyrics for Whitney Houston songs? If it is you please stop it now.

Every few months I find myself in this position. All I want to do is find an outstanding teacher to employ. All I end up doing is wallowing through a pile of edu-speak sickly sweet treacle.

Who is it that is teaching new graduates that a CV should sound like a Whitney Houston song? The lack-of-substance mush-crimes are at their worst from UC College of Education here in Christchurch. Graduates seem compelled to offer something called an 'emerging philosophy of teaching.' 

The problem with an 'emerging philosophy of teaching' is that it states the obvious and tells me nothing about what the candidate actually plans to do if I let him/her loose on a class of children.

"I believe the children are our are future 
Teach them well and let them lead the way 
Show them all the beauty they possess inside 
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier"

Give me a break. Without breaking any confidentiality by quoting from actual applications in front of me, they seem to say the same thing while at the same time managing to say nothing.

"Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be"

The missing components of so many of these manufactured sugar-sweet teaching job applications can be illustrated by going back to the old school Dr. Julia Atkin circles (as illustrated in From Values and Beliefs about Learning to Principles and Practice. Dr. Julia Atkin, 1996).

Since no one would say "I believe in a teacher centered classroom where only some children reach their potential and only some needs are met and parents are unwelcome" everyone has to say "I believe in a child centered classroom where all children reach their potential and all needs are met and there is an open door policy/partnership with parents." These nice words are the centre of the circles mentioned above. 

Sadly most job applications I receive stop there. They don't go on to say what the applicant's planned practices (which are congruent with their values and beliefs) are. A job application with the outer circle filled in will get my attention. The rest don't.

I could easily apply for a doctor's job by saying I want to heal people or an engineer's job by saying I want to build great buildings that don't fall down. The thing needed in those job applications would be some concrete ideas for how I might do that (the outer circles).

I hope teacher training institutions cotton on to these important gaps in the CVs they guide their students to produce.

And... one final point. We work with children, we get them to use crayons and picture books. This does not mean a job application and CV for a teaching job needs to look like it is made with crayons and made up as a pop-up book. Sort out the pedagogy/andragogy divide.


  1. Hi Mike

    Something I have been feeling for a long time, you have worded so beautifully. Well done.

    Send it off the Colleges of Ed


  2. Hi Mike,
    I'm a student teacher who is looking to get hired for 2012, in fact my latest post was on finding work.

    I'm in the process of drafting cover letters that outline my key skills and will make sure that I say as I can do as much as what I believe.

    I think a lot of new teachers try to cover up their lack of experience through making statements they think principals want to hear.

    So thanks for writing this, you've influenced at least one student to think more about what goes in their job application. I've forwarded it on to a couple of my friends as well.