Schools of Education
Posted in Education by Peter W. Schramm
Education Secretary Arne Duncan
is criticizing schools of education, although it's not perfectly clear why.
3:19 PM / October 22, 2009
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What is it called when you teach someone how to teach?
I know, I know.
A terrible waste of a lot of young people's tuition money at every single school of ed in the entire country bar none.
The underlying problem is that many students come into the programs with insufficient underlying content knowledge themselves. How can they teach or even understand elementary math if they do not know how to multiply without a calculator?
You have to know your stuff before the "methods" make sense and you have to understand more than one "method" before you can make sense to kids. Its more about connections than data and methods. (40+ years teaching, 36 as certified)
I cannot understand why people don't start demanding that elementary and secondary teachers first get an academic degree (e.g., history if you're a history teacher at a high school and a general studies degree if you wish to teach elementary) and then require a year or so of ed. classes as part of certification for teaching. If teachers were trained in this manner, I think people would begin to be more open to the argument that they deserve better pay. Though I still think they ought to demonstrate merit.
The ed. school requirements are what drove me away from my original ambition to be a high school history teacher. When I stupidly asked the adviser to whom I was assigned during my freshman year, "How would I be able to teach history to students if I only take six courses in history during my four years here?" he looked at me with incredulity . . . "You don't need to know anything about history," he told me. "You just need to stay a chapter ahead of the students!" When I challenged him by suggesting that I could do that right then, where I sat, without the added burden of paying four years of tuition, he neatly informed me that this was the price I had to pay to punch my ticket. "So," I asked, "this is, essentially, a kind of legalized blackmail?" He laughed. But he did not disagree. Just like that. No bones about it.
I have always understood ed. school to be a scam ever since. I am sure that there are useful and, perhaps (depending upon the quality of your professors) even meaningful things to be learned in "education" courses. And certainly, for specialized things like teaching children with learning disabilities to read, there is a need for special training beyond general knowledge. But for the vast majority of people who aim to teach--particularly at the high school level--it is a huge waste of time and money.
Julie, no, don't try to be magnanimous by saying you can learn meaningful things in education classes. You can't. They're all taught at the middle-school level and a complete waste of time. You're right that it's a huge waste of money and time. I almost asked for my tuition back from the dean I felt so ripped off at a school that ranks in the top 3 in almost all categories. Luckily I got a BA/MA in history before wasting my time and money. I got certified but stopped one class short of an MEd. because I was too embarrassed to have it on my resume.
My proposal is that everyone gets degrees and an advanced degree in their field to gain a mastery of it, and then do a year-long internship under a mentor teacher who committed and experienced. You'll learn everything you can by actually doing it or whether you simply weren't cut out for the job. The schools of education can be torn down for a nice quad or real academic discipline ~ whatever you want.
Schoolteachers, especially elementary teachers, from an era when America's literacy was at its highest did not have advanced degrees and often not even BA's. I know many people who could walk into a classroom, even in high schools, right out of a career and do a better job teaching than some of the teachers that my daughter has right now. When I was teaching in HS without an advanced degree, the only complaint against me was that I was doing too much, "kids won't get it" which was not the complaint from the kids, but from my colleagues. Now I teach at a community college without even a degree with my subject and the only complaint against me is that lack of credentials. There are no complaints against my work, which is how I get to keep working.
Therefore, I think opening teaching up would be more effective in the largest sense than closing the system any further. I will not take teaching courses, either. From my early college days, friends in ed. courses were horribly bored and they learned nothing useful from the expensive education, even at Teacher's College at CU, which is being touted in that article. I know many people with a wealth of knowledge, self-taught, who could be very good teachers, but they will not jump through the required hoops to get to the classroom. What they would offer students is a love of the subject and a true love of learning that would be a great gift.
However, government cannot measure such gifts.
I like the apprenticeship idea. I also feel sorry for Arne Duncan. None of the solutions to the problems of our public schools that are on offer, that are "possible" will fix this wretched system in the short run. My daughter's Lit. book has on offer bowdlerized, simplified versions of "Antigone" and "Julius Caesar" which are works she knows very well. (Her current cats are named Antigone and Medea.) She is most disappointed. In complaining to her English teacher, trying to be funny, she said she was "avid for Ovid" and the teacher did not get the reference. This is heartbreaking.
Right, Kate! Imagine that Gordon Wood, David McCullough, or David Hackett Fischer would not be allowed to teach history in most states and school systems. Marilynne Robinson, Mark Halprin, or Tom Wolfe would not be allowed to teach English! Neither would Stephen Hawking be allowed to teach physics, etc., etc.
The prof. that hired me, (his PhD is in Graphic Novels,) told me that they had hired so many PhD's who simply could not teach that they had been willing to take a chance on me.
Yes, etc., etc., because removing barriers to entry creates competition allowing the choice of the best. I suppose if anyone could do that, Mr. Duncan could, as folks used to say about Nixon going to China, because it would be unexpected and actually seem the only logical response to the bad situation at hand if someone like him suggested it. Do you suppose he will?
Incidentally, I am adding this note after the fourth go-round with captchaIt takes real dedication to comment on this site.
Graphic Novels? as in comic books? I picked the wrong grad program then if I could have been reading Frank Miller and debating the new world order message of watchmen.
Isn't that funny? I think he graduated from Cleveland State.
You might want to come hear my talk on "Captain America and the Dilemma of Liberal Patriotism," which I'll be giving at the Ashbrook Center on Friday, November 13 at 3:00. I'm just sayin'.
I do want to hear it. I know you and your talk will be very good. However, I have a standing Friday afternoon commitment and cannot come. I am depending on the podcast and looking forward to it as something compensatory. Please make sure all recording equipment is in good working order for that 11/13 talk.
Brutus, if you can possibly go, you should not miss it.
I have to work and can't really afford to take off at this point. I will check out the podcast as I would like to see where you go with this Dr. Moser.