Teachers spend only one fifth of their time teaching

Education minister thinks teachers should be spending more time with students rather than marking assignments

Melting sea ice is creating challenges and opportunities in Greenland (Photo: John Lumen)
April 17th, 2012 9:42 am| by admin
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High school teachers use less than a fifth of their time at work actually teaching students, a new study from the Education Ministry has shown.

Speaking to Jyllands-Posten newspaper, the education minister, Christina Antorini (Socialdemokraterne) said she was not satisfied with the results of the study that showed teachers spend only 19.6 percent of their time teaching and 26 percent preparing lessons.

“What is important is that we find ways to get teachers to use more time with students,” she told Jyllands-Posten.

The results of the annual study are based on the responses of 497 teachers from 20 high schools and show a slight drop in the amount of teaching time compared to the previous year.

Given that teachers only spent four percent of their time taking breaks, Antorini added that teachers cannot be blamed for being idle.

“We don’t need to get teachers to work more, but try and get them to spend more of their time with students,” Antorini said.

However, the chairman of the high school head master’s association, Jens Boe Nielsen, argued that it was wrong to criticise teachers for not spending enough time teaching.

“We need to define teaching more broadly than simply what goes on in a class room,” Nielsen told Jyllands-Posten. “I think all the time that teachers spend imparting knowledge to students should count, such as during homework groups, study trips or rehearsing a musical. What is important is making sure teachers spend plenty of time with students, and they do.”

Gorm Leschly, chairman of the high school teacher’s association, added that it was outdated to measure a teacher’s effectiveness simply by the amount of time spent in front of a blackboard.

“We are aware that there is a crisis facing society and we are not averse to finding intelligent solutions that can lead to more teaching time,” he told Jyllands-Posten.

Antorini pointed out, however, that the last high school reform encouraged teachers to give students more feedback so that they were not simply given a grade.

But with 12 percent of a teacher’s time spent on marking assignments and 1.8 percent spent on giving feedback, both Antorini and Leschly agreed that more time should be allocated to giving students feedback.

“Given that more and more pupils are deciding to go to high school, it is becoming increasingly important that they receive personal feedback," Leschly said, adding that many high schools have started to do so. "Many high-schools have started projects in which teachers correct assignments together with the students.”

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