Plastered all over my Facebook pages is the one demand that South Africans seem to agree on: bring back the colleges of education.

This was in response to a question I recently posed: are universities the best place for training teachers? Almost everybody seemed to agree that universities are not suited for preparing the next generation of teachers, but if we bring back the colleges, problem solved.

As someone who has spent most of his life preparing teachers for the profession, I have come to a simple conclusion. Universities are not the best place for teacher education. For one, most of us have not been classroom practitioners for decades and so the exigencies of classroom life are often lost on those who teach teachers for our schools. Too many academics are self-absorbed scholars who are enthralled by high theory (they even speak strangely, using ridiculous terms such as “epistemic suicide” and “habitus” rather than classroom management and reading literacy) and more concerned about getting the next article published for money and promotion. Frighteningly, many of those who prepare our teachers were never teachers themselves for any appreciable length of time; imagine this applied to those who trained heart surgeons. The theory-practice balance, in other words, is out of sync. One way to remedy this is to place student teachers in classroom practice for 70% of the time and ...

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