On her blog, Diane Ravitch posted a reader quote about the importance of content expertise for teachers. Here is an excerpt:
There is nothing more important, especially in the HS classroom, than a teacher who is an expert in his/her respective field. The “tricks of the trade” are second nature for those truly called to this noble profession. A teacher needs passion and patience, but more than anything else she needs to know what she’s talking about. That is what gives the teacher authority.
And here is a slightly edited version of my response, originally posted as a comment on Diane Ravitch’s blog.
I disagree with the sentiment expressed by your reader.
First, it’s impractical to expect all teachers to be masters of their content. If we need 200,000 math teachers in the US, we aren’t going to find 200,000 math experts for those positions, unless we dramatically redefine what we mean by ‘expert’.
Second, content expertise is not the source of a teacher’s authority. Being a teacher is more about being a leader than being an authority, and leadership is earned through a combination of respect, effort, enthusiasm, caring, and expertise.
Lastly, subject-specific content delivery is one aspect of teaching that can obviously be streamlined by technology. As education evolves, we teachers need to make our case by emphasizing the variety of other tools and expertise we bring to students, not just content.
The original post can be seen here.