New teacher training standards emphasise critical thinking

Chile’s Ministry of Education has published new binding standards for teacher training, which replace the 2011 guiding standards and give greater emphasis to cultural diversity, inclusion, gender, the development of students’ socio-emotional skills and the use of education technologies. They are also mandatory, whereas before they were optional.

The new standards define the skills, knowledge and competencies that universities must impart to future teachers. The teaching courses’ curricula will have to be revised accordingly. The new standards also have a bearing on the accreditation of teaching courses and will be the basis of the National Diagnostic Evaluation for teaching students.

Josefina Santa Cruz, dean of the faculty of education of Universidad del Desarrollo, says that among the novelty of the new standards are critical thinking skills such as reaching conclusions through evidence-based reasoning and the analysis of different perspectives.

Likewise, they require teachers to include all students, recognising and valuing gender diversity and sexual leanings, as well as physical, social, economic, religious and ethnic characteristics.

“On the other hand, teachers must be able to implement strategies to help students recognise and regulate their emotions, make responsible decisions and establish positive relations with others,” Santa Cruz adds.

The standards – the main reference for teacher training in universities – were four years in the making. During this period, the ministry gathered the views of universities, teachers, academics, researchers and experts.

“The new standards aim to form upright people, with skills for living together,” says Francisca Díaz, director of CPEIP, the Ministry of Education’s teacher professional development centre.

“This is a landmark that reflects a countrywide agreement on the kind of ongoing professional development of the teaching skills that Chile needs. They apply to existing teachers and to those being trained.”

Díaz says that a major change is the emphasis on diversity, which means that teachers have to reach every single student, whereas before they carried on regardless, even if some students did not follow what they were teaching.

“The change was needed in order to update standards in line with major changes such as the quality assurance system for education in Chile. And with advances in teaching in the past decade and a half such as the socio-educational climate and new topics such as cultural diversity, gender and inclusion,” Cristián Cox, director of the Center for Comparative Policies in Education at the Universidad Diego Portales, told University World News.

“Compared to the 2011 standards, these are markedly more precise and coherent in respect to the teaching dimension of knowledge and know-how,” he added.

Examples are teaching and evaluation strategies of learning fractions in eight-year-old children, or how to teach the concept of representation to 15-year-olds who do not believe in representation, or when to use role-playing instead of an explanation related to living together.

The implementation of the new standards by universities will be assessed in 2023 and the first national tests for teaching graduates referred to the new standards will take place in 2024.