There is a government created organisation in the area of the world where I live called the Victorian Institute of Teaching. This entire entry is merely an exercise in pointing out how entirely unnecessary and generally useless the group is, serving no useful service and instead only acting as a waste of resources for actual teachers. So what does the V.I.T. do and what does its existence mean for teaching professionals?
First, it must be stressed that if you are not registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching then you are legally not allowed to teach in any school within Victoria. That basically means that you are required to tow the V.I.T. line if you wish to continue in your chosen career, there is simply no choice at all in the matter. It is certainly not like joining a Union where you get to elect or not if you want to sign up.
Of course, signing up to the V.I.T. costs you money. In this case it is an annual (indexed, of course, so it increases every year) cost of $68 once you are registered. That may not sound like a lot but when you are a graduate teaching just starting off on a pretty low wage, it tends to count more than you would think.
What do you get for your $68?
Well, absolutely nothing concrete or otherwise useful. Occasionally the V.I.T. will send out a magazine called iTeach (about eight pages in size, so it must have been incredibly resource heavy to compile) which is incredibly self serving and does not so much as offer practical advice to practising teachers. Flicking through the latest copy, it has not one article on strategies, upcoming professional development seminars/conferences, up to date news or anything else that teachers constantly look for.
So what does the V.I.T. itself say the money goes towards?
the development of profession-owned standards of practice
The Department of Education used to do that and did a fair job without having a seperate body having to have a (let’s admit it, shoddy) attempt. Of course, no teachers actually asked for this to occur and things were working just fine without the V.I.T. Service not needed.
the accreditation of pre-service teacher education courses consistent with the profession’s expectations of new teachers
Again, the Department of Education used to do this and did it in a satisfactory manner. University Courses are, and must be, accrediated to be worth anything (otherwise you end up with useless degrees such as those offered by Liberty University in the United States). Service not needed.
the assessment of applications for registration from Victorian graduates, and teachers from interstate and overseas to regulate entry to the profession
Self creating work. Applications as they currently exist were not needed before the V.I.T. and let’s just admit it … the length of time the V.I.T. takes to process applications is something approaching geological in scale. Of course, they created and are in charge of the application process and has done quite a good job in ensuring it is as long and needlessly complicated as possible (in the tradition of all such organisations). Getting back to the main point, this is an example of the V.I.T. creating work for itself – something akin to a Doctor whacking someone in the knee with a nail studded plank of wood and then charging to tend the wound. Service not needed.
the administration of processes to ensure proper investigation of allegations of serious misconduct, serious incompetence or lack of fitness to teach.
Once again, the Department of Education used to do that exact role and did a satisfactory job at it. Service not needed.
Can anyone see in the above reasons the justification for the annual registration charge? I hope so for I see none whatsoever.
So what else does the V.I.T. attempt to say they do which justifies their existence? From a different section of their website:
registers all teachers to ensure only qualified people are employed in Victorian schools
Not terribly hard since to be a teacher, it usually takes the completion of a four year full time specialised University course. Of course, such registration did not exist before the V.I.T. came about so (much like above) it is self created work.
promotes the profession of teaching to the wider community
I am in pretty good touch with the education community, being part of it and all, and I have yet to see the V.I.T. do anything of the kind. I have heard word that the V.I.T. has had booths at career days here and there but I do not think anyone could possibly call handing out leaflets a dedicated promotion of the profession to the wider community. This claim of the V.I.T.’s is something that lies somewhere between being a gross exaggeration and a full blown lie. The Victorian Independent Education Union (VIEU) in their 2007 Review states “the Institute has failed to promote the profession of teaching, particularly in the face of criticism of the profession“. That same review goes on to pretty savagely attack the V.I.T.’s work and track record (and it certainly has not improved since then). The submission made by the Australian Education Union (AEU) echoes and supports a lot of the points made.
works with teachers to develop standards of professional practice
Translation: Wastes the time of otherwise really busy education professionals by hassling them with surveys, application forms and a general load of wank which no one really cares about to begin with. Teachers know what teachers have to, are expected to and generally do each and every day; they certainly do not need it needlessly set down in a load of beurocratic gibberish which has zero practical value.
supports teachers in their first year of teaching with a structured induction program
This one made me laugh in a sad sort of way. The V.I.T. offers no support but instead imposes a needlessly complicated and lengthy application process in order to gain full registration status. Graduates are expected, on top of their normal duties and expectations, to jump through all manner of administrational hoops and submit a portfolio of work which meets a rather long list of complicated points. This V.I.T. claim really is a lie.
approves and accredits pre-service teacher education courses that prepare teachers
See above about the accreditation of University courses.
investigates and makes findings on instances of serious misconduct, serious incompetence or lack of fitness to teach.
See above about this particular point.
Let us take a step back and look at the origins of the V.I.T. shall we? It was created in 2001 under the authority of the Victorian Institute of Teaching Act 2001. But why did this happen? The same reason such bodies are usually created: Politics. It seems a common occurrence that teachers become easy targets for scoring political points, such is the current way of the world. The state government at the time decided it could gain a couple of points in the polls by proclaiming that it would ‘clean up’ the teaching profession and thus introduced the V.I.T. No one within the profession called for the creation of such an organisation and it was certainly not required. It’s creation generally went without comment because of the various promises made at the time but the Institutes track record since then has been pretty clear; it has done little to nothing to aid the profession.
Perhaps the general feeling about the V.I.T. from teachers can be summed up by the statements made by Brendan T. Murray and Michael Charles Lester, who were voted onto the VIT Council in 2005 in a bid to see it shut down (sadly this did not work due to the power of legislation governing the existence of the VIT, while Murray and Lester were ordered that all public comments had to be passed through the office of the VIT head of the time).
Brendan T. Murray:
“The VIT is irrelevant and a sham. It has offended teachers with its intimidating money grab, (regardless of teaching commitments), the onerous and unnecessary accreditation process, and its silence in the face of political attacks on the state system. Of further concern is its contentious role in teacher sackings, its frequently inept dealings with enquiries and registrations and its sheer lack of value for those teachers who are already registered. The V.I.T. is little more than cosy club for self serving education bureaucrats that has become drunk on its legislative authority and self importance. It is a burden to teachers, not a benefit. I and fellow candidate Mick Lester ( State Secondary) will represent dissatisfied teachers by encouraging far greater scrutiny of its activities, working ultimately towards dismantling the V.I.T. and ending the resented registration fees.”
Michael Charles Lester:
“The stand-out achievement for the Institute and for the profession in Victoria has been the emergence of a new professional culture among teachers” ( Andrew Ius, CEO VIT from 2004 Annual Report). Nonsense! If not for the professionalism and hard work of teachers in the state secondary system, public education would have collapsed long ago. Sadly the VIT is an irrelevant body to most teachers because it fails to deal with the real issues that concern members – the necessary resources to perform our work effectively and a professional body that publicly counters the politicians and commentators who seek to destroy universal education through constant attacks on the state system and teachers. We are not the problem; we are the solution.! If elected, I will work towards making the VIT a body that really does promote the profession of teaching.”
So, to summarise: The V.I.T. has failed miserably to meet any of it’s goals especially in relation to promoting the profession. It has created extra burdens for teaching professionals of all levels of experience but particularly graduates. It legally has teachers over a barrel in terms in demanding money on a yearly basis in a way that teachers do not (and never have) want. It delivers absolutely nothing of practical worth to those within the teaching profession and instead, as mentioned, only causes further problems in the forum of paperwork requirements.
Therefore there is no possible conclusion other than the Victorian Institute of Teaching is a complete waste of space.
- Victorian Institute of Teaching
- V.I.T. (Wikipedia)
- Teachers disapproving of the V.I.T. (Facebook group)
- VIEU VIT Review (PDF)
- AEU VIT Review (PDF)
- Call for VIT Boycott