Student teacher

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A student teacher, pupil-teacher (historical) or prac teacher (practice teacher) is a college, university or graduate student who is teaching under the supervision of a certified teacher in order to qualify for a degree in education.

The term is also often used interchangeably with "Pre-Service Teacher". It is a much broader term to include those students that are studying the required coursework in pedagogy, as well as their specialty, but have not entered the supervised teaching portion of their training. In many institutions "Pre-Service Teacher" is the official and preferred title for all education students.[1]


Pupil teacher refers to a training program widely in use before the twentieth century, as an apprentice system for teachers. With the emergence in the beginning of the nineteenth century of education for the masses, instead of simply for the upper-classes, demand for teachers increased. By 1840, it had become evident that the academic preparation of students for teacher training in a college system was inadequate. In 1846, Britain formalized a pupil-teacher system, focused on training middle-class teachers, in which a senior pupil of at least thirteen years old, served as an apprentice, typically for five years, to learn the teaching profession. Pupil-teachers acted as a teacher of younger children, learning from observation and practical application, while simultaneously completing their own educations. Widely criticized for its inability to provide adequate professional preparation, in the 1870s and 1880s, pupil teachers began being offered instruction at centres nationwide throughout Britain, which were designed to improve their training. The centres provided professional training by the best teachers in the elementary school system, but were not standardized. Most students who participated in centre programs spent half of their training on theory at the centralized school and half of their training with hands-on teaching in schools.[2]

In the Anglo-Caribbean, the system was widely used until the 1950s, offering students contracts of a specific period. The most promising primary students were selected for recruitment as educators. In exchange for offsetting the costs of their own education, they assisted teachers in instructing younger classmates. Upon completing their own education, pupil teachers were required to pass examinations to begin their own independent teaching. In some cases, the pupil teacher system was used as a stepping-stone to provide a basis of payment for secondary education before students were able to attend regular normal school training.[3][4] While in theory, the Caribbean pupil-teacher program operated as an apprentice system, because there was an extreme shortage of teachers, in actuality, pupil-teachers often served as a full member of the teaching staff, having little time to attend to their own studies.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Student teacher. WordNet 3.0. Princeton University. Retrieved 8/05/07.
  2. ^ Robinson, Wendy (2006). "Teacher Training in England and Wales: Past, Present and Future Perspectives" (PDF). Education Research and Perspectives. Crawley, Western Australia: The University of Western Australia. 33 (2): 21–22. ISSN 1446-0017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Miller, Errol (1999). "Teacher Development in the Caribbean". Organization of American States. Washington, D. C.: Inter-American Collaboratory for the Teacher Profession. p. 11. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  4. ^ Steward, Lucy; Thomas, Elwyn, eds. (1996). Caribbean Issues and Developments: Teacher Education in the Commonwealth. London, England: Commonwealth Secretariat. pp. 40–41, 133. ISBN 978-0-85092-460-2. 
  5. ^ Fergus, Howard A. (2003). A History of Education in the British Leeward Islands, 1838-1945. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-976-640-131-3. 


  • Meyer-Botnarescue, H. and Machado, J. (2004) Student Teaching: Early Childhood Practicum Guide. Thomson Delmar Learning.
  • Grim, P.R. and Michaelis, J.U. (1953) The Student Teacher in the Secondary School. Prentice-Hall.
  • DellaValle, J. and Sawyer, E. (1998) Teacher Career Starter: The Road to a Rewarding Career. Career Starters.
  • Wiggins, S.P. (1958) The Student Teacher in Action. Allyn and Bacon Publishers.

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