Q: Do you think that the average person coming out of a teacher-education program in college is ready to be a teacher?
A: I would say this to them: You've spent a lot of time in school, you've had some teaching experiences, you've been able to accumulate a lot of information, and lots of it is probably very, very good. But there are also a whole bunch of other things, important things, that you may not know yet. You need to be open to that and ready to learn things.
Q: Like what?
A: Well to begin with, if you haven't been around teachers who have a political consciousness, who have experience with the social and political effects of things that take place in the schools, you definitely have to learn about that. You can't be thinking that your classroom is a safe little place that's separated from the rest of the world. Schools are impacted by larger social forces, by the dynamics of who has power in our society, issues of race, how decisions are made. These forces determine so many things - whether schools are adequately funded or whether the students and their families are comfortable or struggling to make ends meet - things that affect what happens in the classroom.
I like to think that the people who have worked with us at Fratney have a sense of that, because we try to make it a real up-front issue. Fratney is built on the principles of antiracism and multiculturalism, the idea that we're not just preparing students to take and pass tests, we're not just preparing them academically but also to play a conscious and active role in society, to recognize and combat racism, to actively pursue social justice. These are things that many new teachers may not have been exposed to.