Some more interesting news from the Netherlands. According to an article in Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant, new teachers at Dutch universities will need to get a teaching certificate. All universities will require starting assistant professors/lecturers to get such a certificate within a few years from the start of their position. At one university – that already used a similar system – early career academics spend around 260 hours for the teacher training.

I’m happy with the attention given to teaching, especially because of the current over-emphasis on research (because it is easily quantifiable and internationally comparable). But 260 hours…? Two or three weeks would be enough, I would think. I already heard one Dutch academic on radio expressing fears for ‘the terrorism of educationalists’…

But what I am most surprised about is the fact that the training is meant for those that will start an assistant professorship or lecturer position. I am sure that this will be a major distraction for early career academics. Considering that a Ph.D. is a normal requirement for this position, why not integrate the training in the Ph.D.? Considering that the Dutch Ph.D. training is predominantly research based (as opposed to course-based), there should be some time to include a couple of weeks of teacher training in that.

And one more question for my readers: do you know of any other countries that require a similar teaching qualification for starting assistant professors or lecturers?

This article has 13 comments

  1. Leasa

    Wow, 260 hours does seem a little over the top. However, I think the overall idea of training professors to teach is a good thing…but there will still be plenty of professors that prefer research and don’t necessarily have the best skills to be in front of a class of young and thirsty minds. This initiative reads as if it is only for NEW professors, what about the current and seasoned professors? I would think they could do with some teacher training as well, even though they wouldn’t be very happy with it.

  2. Eric

    Hi Leasa
    Good point! But I guess it would meet ‘some’ resistance (and yes, that’s definitely an understatement) from the established professors who have been teaching for years, if not decades. If I had been teaching for thirty years, I sure would resist if they all of a sudden make me take a training course for 6-7 weeks. But at the same time, I agree with you that there are plenty who could do with such a course.

    The University of Utrecht is actually making the certificate also compulsory for existing assistant professors if they want to be promoted to associate professor.

  3. Charles Jannuzi

    You have to wonder who is running and evaluating the quality of the teacher training courses. How many times have I seen the people running teacher training courses where the teacher trainers have no experience teaching anyone but teachers in training.

    In a system like Japan’s, it would just re-inforce this pernicious distinction: does research vs. does research and upper-level teaching vs. teaches those courses no one wants to teach.

  4. Eric

    @Charles: I guess you mean something like the well known phrase: “those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”

    In this case: “Those who can teach, teach real things. Those who can’t, teach teaching”

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