What does your ideal education system look like?

CheezePavilion wrote:

Also, can I ask if the certification process is just to test subject area knowledge, or is it also to make sure we're not sending people into the classroom who might be great working in the subject area, but can't actually teach (or at least haven't been given some basic skills first so we're not throwing them in the deep end without making sure they at least have an idea how to swim)? Not every great player makes a good coach sorta logic.

It's true that "those who can't do, teach" didn't just magically appear as a snark in our culture, but not all those who can do, can teach well.

>Ding, ding, ding< I guess it's not common knowledge that there is, in fact, a vast field of study dedicated to understanding teaching and learning, an art that makes a far better teacher than subject-area expertise called Pedagogy. People like to talk about teaching like it's easy. It's not. There was a talk in my state a few years back to improve our education system by reaching out to those great messiahs of the 21st century, those who had succeeded at business to turn their magic powers to fixing our classrooms. We don't hear that talk any more--the business guys found out pretty quickly this sh*t be hard, and quit.

Budget cuts kept me from getting certified, which sucked, but I was happily taking the classes that would have gotten me certified, because I actually wanted to do it. Characterizing Mr NASA Man as being "denied" because he actually wasn't willing to learn the skills he needed angrys up the blood. All the NASA science in the universe will help you not at all teaching high-school physics. Teachers get certified to teach for the same reason your dad got certified to work at a nuclear power plant, bandit--to prove they know what the hell they're doing.

bandit0013 wrote:

You don't need a degree to teach anything. You just need to understand what it is you're teaching and be able to break down the concepts in varied ways, which is a skill that is near impossible to teach.

In the year 2000, 10,280 Michigan students took the SAT exam. They were also polled on whether they planned to attend college and what their major would be. Of the 6 percent of students who selected education as a major, their average math score was 35 points below the state average. The average verbal score for education majors was 26 points below the state average. That's not saying that every teacher is dumb, but the stats don't lie. "Those who can't do, teach" didn't just magically appear as a snark in our culture. It's a shame that we can measure and reward good teachers to attract better candidates to the field.

Additionally, the certification process is highly flawed and generally serves to keep people out of the profession. I recall an article a while back about a retired NASA scientist who was denied teaching math in Georgia because he had to go through a longish (> 1 yr) certification process. My father has the same thing, he has a degree in Physics, he supervises a nuclear power plant control room and has been the head nuclear operator trainer at the plant for more than a decade. Yet irregardless of his certification by the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions stamp of approval of his ability to train people to run nuclear reactors he wouldn't be able to teach basic arithmetic in a school unless he jumped through all these certification hoops. He likes teaching, would be willing to do it in retirement, but he really doesn't feel like going through all the extra crap.

Yeah, you don't get to have it both ways. Either you have the state certification to ensure your kids or taught by people who actually know sh*t or you abandon the entire principal of No Child Left Behind, which essentially requires certification and repeated testing.

As for your dad, the last time I checked knowing how to run a reactor doesn't really qualify you to teach math. But, nonetheless, he could easily get certification in a year or two if he just took the right classes and tests. As Cheeze pointed out, there's big difference between I know something and I can teach someone that thing. Doubly so when the people you're trying to teach are teenagers, not nuclear technicians who've already been through college.

I'm not an American so I don't exactly share or understand the aphorism that "those who can't do, teach." I do, however, believe in the aphorism, "those who do, generally don't teach well." It goes without saying that someone who has spent his time acquiring the expertise and manual skills to be excellent at a task won't be excellent at other tasks: a musician would generally make a lousy theoretical physicist, regardless of how many songs he may know that relate to the subject of theoretical physics. Teaching is a skill and a profession separate from everything else. You don't get good at teaching something just because you're good at that something.

At the same time, for the most rarefied skills and professional expertise, you can usually only get the material from those who are currently practicing the skills - they're likely to be lousy teachers, but they're the only ones who have the knowledge you seek, so it's common in my part of the world for the most skilled and most prudent people to have a bunch of apprentices under their wing, both at the request of the apprentices, and for the good of the master - succession planning wise.

For simple and basic things - calculus, field biology, statistics, critical thinking - it's more important to have the skills and the mastery of the teaching vocation. It is, of course, necessary to have an absolute mastery of the subject in question, but mastery of such simple subjects should not be deemed sufficient, in themselves, to merit the post of an instructor.

For my part, the most important thing my college taught me was that the world at large was unreasonably demanding, and that I was absolutely, completely on my own.

OG_slinger wrote:

Either you have the state certification to ensure your kids or taught by people who actually know sh*t or you abandon the entire principal of No Child Left Behind, which essentially requires certification and repeated testing.

Ahh, NCLB. Another wonderful federal government carrot-and-the-stick program where rote memorization and standardized tests are the primary definitions of a learned individual.

LarryC wrote:

I'm not an American so I don't exactly share or understand the aphorism that "those who can't do, teach." I do, however, believe in the aphorism, "those who do, generally don't teach well." It goes without saying that someone who has spent his time acquiring the expertise and manual skills to be excellent at a task won't be excellent at other tasks: a musician would generally make a lousy theoretical physicist, regardless of how many songs he may know that relate to the subject of theoretical physics. Teaching is a skill and a profession separate from everything else. You don't get good at teaching something just because you're good at that something.

At the same time, for the most rarefied skills and professional expertise, you can usually only get the material from those who are currently practicing the skills - they're likely to be lousy teachers, but they're the only ones who have the knowledge you seek, so it's common in my part of the world for the most skilled and most prudent people to have a bunch of apprentices under their wing, both at the request of the apprentices, and for the good of the master - succession planning wise.

For simple and basic things - calculus, field biology, statistics, critical thinking - it's more important to have the skills and the mastery of the teaching vocation. It is, of course, necessary to have an absolute mastery of the subject in question, but mastery of such simple subjects should not be deemed sufficient, in themselves, to merit the post of an instructor.

For my part, the most important thing my college taught me was that the world at large was unreasonably demanding, and that I was absolutely, completely on my own.

My experience during my college years was a mixed bag. For example I had a CS professor who really knew the subject matter, but he couldn't teach his way out of a paper bag. He basically just lectured while facing a blackboard with his back to the class the entire time. I also took an accounting class taught by a fellow that had spent 15 years as a staff accountant for a large grocery store chain before he decided to switch careers and become a teacher. The guy knew his stuff and was able to relate it to real world examples. He was an excellent teacher.

As much as I might think that homeschooling may be contrary to the interests of the individual child, I recognize the parents' right to educate their child the way they feel best. Some manage to do so well. The majority tend to do so poorly. Despite that, I believe strongly enough that it is a parental prorogative to educate your children the way you want.

That said, and as I've said above, I still think that the public policy should be that of building an education system that maximizes human potential for the benefit of the nation. Public policy should reflect public interest. If we are a weaker nation for our policies, our policies need adjusting. And by weaker, I can draw a number of examples. If we educate our children that "evolution is just a theory" whose efficacy is equal or inferior to the Bronze age ramblings of primitives that had yet to discover Germ Theory of Disease, we are a weaker and much diminished people for it. If we educate our children that progress toward a stronger America in which all citizens, irrespective of race, gender, religion, or economic circumstance, can rise beyond their beginnings is not their national birthright, we have failed to live up to our responsibilities as citizens. If we fail to educate our children that making the nation a better place is our collective, civic responsibility, we have failed as a people.

We don't do these things by clinging to a culture of selfishness or insisting that we gut public investment and let "the market take care of it". The market won't. We do them by examining policies that have worked (e.g.: Finland and South Korea's), analyzing efficacious mechanisms, and committing to change.

Two things I'd like to do as dictator with a magical Harry Potter wand:

1. Make college really, really hard to get into (think Japan's system). That way, even an English or History degree would mean something because far fewer people would be earning degrees. My only stipulation would be that there has to be an excellent technical/trade school program like Germany for everybody else. The one difference between this new system and Japan is you would have unlimited number of chances to pass the crazy entrance exam. That way late bloomers would not be shut out.

2. Crack down hard on "for profit" onine colleges. These schools have high rates of college loan fraud, high drop-out rates, and questionable academic performance.

3. Interesting idea I heard on the Micheal Medvid show - countries with mandatory conscription such as Israel have better academic performance at the college level. It seems 2-3 years in the military after high school gives kids discipline and problem solving skills. I'm not saying we need universal conscription - but a national service project would be a good idea (IMHO).

OG_slinger wrote:

Yeah, you don't get to have it both ways. Either you have the state certification to ensure your kids or taught by people who actually know sh*t or you abandon the entire principal of No Child Left Behind, which essentially requires certification and repeated testing.

As for your dad, the last time I checked knowing how to run a reactor doesn't really qualify you to teach math. But, nonetheless, he could easily get certification in a year or two if he just took the right classes and tests. As Cheeze pointed out, there's big difference between I know something and I can teach someone that thing. Doubly so when the people you're trying to teach are teenagers, not nuclear technicians who've already been through college.

I'm not asking for it both ways. I'm saying you have a professional worker with > 30 years of experience in the field who has training certifications that are much more difficult to get (and maintain) than what a teacher gets. Why should you force them to go through a 1-2 year program at their own expense to get them into the classroom? Surely there should be a quick track program that takes work experience into account, and then you can rate his performance against the same metrics other teachers get.

The certification process is a union thing to raise barriers to entry in order to protect their membership. I have a master's degree, I'm a microsoft certified trainer, I'm a certified youth soccer coach. I reject the premise that I should have to take 1-2 years of certification to teach a 3rd grade class basic arithmetic. My life experience and certifications in my field should be taken into account if I choose to teach.

jdzappa wrote:

Two things I'd like to do as dictator with a magical Harry Potter wand:

1. Make college really, really hard to get into (think Japan's system). That way, even an English or History degree would mean something because far fewer people would be earning degrees. My only stipulation would be that there has to be an excellent technical/trade school program like Germany for everybody else. The one difference between this new system and Japan is you would have unlimited number of chances to pass the crazy entrance exam. That way late bloomers would not be shut out.

2. Crack down hard on "for profit" onine colleges. These schools have high rates of college loan fraud, high drop-out rates, and questionable academic performance.

3. Interesting idea I heard on the Micheal Medvid show - countries with mandatory conscription such as Israel have better academic performance at the college level. It seems 2-3 years in the military after high school gives kids discipline and problem solving skills. I'm not saying we need universal conscription - but a national service project would be a good idea (IMHO).

I think 2-3 years of the military right out of high school would have helped to integrate my feces. I don't know that it is necessarily for everyone, but I think it isn't at all a bad idea. I also like the idea of national service as a responsibility of citizenship. It makes folks take the responsibility of citizenship a lot less for granted.

Aside from the educational system as a society maybe we could tone back the belief that a diploma/degree is absolutely necessary to get a job. We have people wasting a lot of time and money in programs which don't really develop skills, knowledge, or thinking. Let's get human resource departments to stop demanding a degree for jobs that could be done by nearly by anyone out of high school.

krev82 wrote:

Aside from the educational system as a society maybe we could tone back the belief that a diploma/degree is absolutely necessary to get a job. We have people wasting a lot of time and money in programs which don't really develop skills, knowledge, or thinking. Let's get human resource departments to stop demanding a degree for jobs that could be done by nearly by anyone out of high school.

One of the reasons the military puts a premium on high school diplomas is that there is a super high correlation between dropping out of high school and volunteer dropping out of basic training. Folks who can't suck it up and finish school even when it sucks or "seems retarded" generally don't do well when they have some dude yelling in your face from 2 inches away.

I imagine work is very much the same way.

Paleocon wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

3. Interesting idea I heard on the Micheal Medvid show - countries with mandatory conscription such as Israel have better academic performance at the college level. It seems 2-3 years in the military after high school gives kids discipline and problem solving skills. I'm not saying we need universal conscription - but a national service project would be a good idea (IMHO).

I think 2-3 years of the military right out of high school would have helped to integrate my feces. I don't know that it is necessarily for everyone, but I think it isn't at all a bad idea. I also like the idea of national service as a responsibility of citizenship. It makes folks take the responsibility of citizenship a lot less for granted.

Bit of crossover from another P&C thread: is it the military training that makes 20-22 year old freshman better than 18 year old freshman, or is it just the age difference? Maybe it's just that sending kids away to college before they've had any experience of life as an adult and at basically the same point they become an adult is the problem. How much poor academic performance is due to "YO MY PARENTS CAN'T TELL ME WHEN TO GO TO BED AND THEY WON'T KNOW IF I SPEND THE WHOLE NEXT DAY IN BED WITH A HANGOVER!!!" Which leads to...

jdzappa wrote:

The one difference between this new system and Japan is you would have unlimited number of chances to pass the crazy entrance exam. That way late bloomers would not be shut out.

I think this is a really good idea, especially given how much more 'wide open' the employment culture is in America.

bandit0013 wrote:

I'm not asking for it both ways. I'm saying you have a professional worker with > 30 years of experience in the field who has training certifications that are much more difficult to get (and maintain) than what a teacher gets. Why should you force them to go through a 1-2 year program at their own expense to get them into the classroom? Surely there should be a quick track program that takes work experience into account, and then you can rate his performance against the same metrics other teachers get.

The certification process is a union thing to raise barriers to entry in order to protect their membership. I have a master's degree, I'm a microsoft certified trainer, I'm a certified youth soccer coach. I reject the premise that I should have to take 1-2 years of certification to teach a 3rd grade class basic arithmetic. My life experience and certifications in my field should be taken into account if I choose to teach.

I think the issue here is you're looking at it as a problem of fairness to the individual. Maybe the system *is* unfair. That's not the problem we're trying to solve here though--we're trying to solve a society-wide problem of poor service for our children.

I just can't imagine there's a large enough pool of people out there to solve our problem on the massive, society wide scale it exists, they're just being held back by a year or two long certification hurdle. A classroom here or there? Sure. An educational system in a country of what, 300 million? No. You've got the right answer to the wrong problem, I think.

bandit0013 wrote:

I'm not asking for it both ways. I'm saying you have a professional worker with > 30 years of experience in the field who has training certifications that are much more difficult to get (and maintain) than what a teacher gets. Why should you force them to go through a 1-2 year program at their own expense to get them into the classroom? Surely there should be a quick track program that takes work experience into account, and then you can rate his performance against the same metrics other teachers get.

The certification process is a union thing to raise barriers to entry in order to protect their membership. I have a master's degree, I'm a microsoft certified trainer, I'm a certified youth soccer coach. I reject the premise that I should have to take 1-2 years of certification to teach a 3rd grade class basic arithmetic. My life experience and certifications in my field should be taken into account if I choose to teach.

What you seem to be saying is that experience in a completely unrelated field somehow makes someone magically qualified to teach.

I have a friend who after 20 years in one career is working to become a French and Spanish teacher. Even though she already has a BA and is fluent in those languages the state of Indiana still requires her to take a set amount of teaching classes, additional language classes, successfully complete eight weeks of student teaching, and pass a certification exam.

These requirements are not a "union thing". They are simply what Indiana's legislature has mandated all teachers go through to ensure little Johnny isn't taught by an idiot or someone who has no business handling a classroom of 25 kids.

Not to mention that turning over classrooms to people with no relevant training and only tangentially related work experience isn't going to go over well with parents and voters if little Johnny doesn't learn what he's supposed to learn. In the hypothetical case of your dad, no one's going to care that he ran a nuclear plant for decades. The parents going to be up his ass because their precious offspring has to repeat a grade and the school administration won't back him because doesn't have the training and certification that proves he actually isn't an incompetent teacher.

On the bright side your dad could substitute teach. All you need for that is a college degree and pass a background check.

Also, it seems a bit odd that you're OK with Microsoft and youth soccer requiring a certification process while insisting that the same isn't needed for teaching.

@OG, no I'm saying that it is wrong that Education doesn't allow for "Comparable experience" like being certified to train nuclear engineers to be taken into account as certification that someone can teach.

Currently, seven states use the National Evaluation System's tests, 27 use the National Teachers Exam, 43 ask new teachers to pass basic skills tests, and 32 require teachers to demonstrate proficiency in the subjects they teach. Teachers have not done well on those tests. Failure rates are between 20 and 30 percent on the basic skills and proficiency tests and 50 to 55 percent on the National Teachers Exam.

So I reject your assertion that completing the education training program is of much value at all. You're making an argument for keeping people like my dad out of the field as if our education system is currently doing a good job and that the teachers in the field are exceptionally qualified. There are dozens of metrics which show this is not the case.

8 weeks of student teaching and an exam would be fine. I assert that adding 50 credit hours on your own dime at whatever outrageous rate colleges are charging these days is not fine on top of that for someone who already has a degree and verifiable experience training humans.

CheezePavilion wrote:

I think the issue here is you're looking at it as a problem of fairness to the individual. Maybe the system *is* unfair. That's not the problem we're trying to solve here though--we're trying to solve a society-wide problem of poor service for our children.

I just can't imagine there's a large enough pool of people out there to solve our problem on the massive, society wide scale it exists, they're just being held back by a year or two long certification hurdle. A classroom here or there? Sure. An educational system in a country of what, 300 million? No. You've got the right answer to the wrong problem, I think.

I think that given statistics that students who major in education are not typically (note: typically) the best and brightest that creating a system that allows those individuals to pass knowledge on to the next generation at the end of their careers is a very good thing. We've talked before about teacher pay and how someone who is gifted in math/science and can be an engineer starting at $70k isn't likely to be interested in a $25k teaching position. Why not get that person in near their retirement age when they are established financially and might be willing to work for a lower salary + benefits?

If someone like my father retires in their 60s, asking them to spend 2 years of their limited productive years remaining getting a bunch of certifications that likely are unnecessary is kind of silly.

Bandit, not trying to denigrate your father's experience at all, but nuclear engineers probably have a hell of a lot more smarts, motivation and training going into the class than high school juniors.

bandit0013 wrote:

I think that given statistics that students who major in education are not typically (note: typically) the best and brightest that creating a system that allows those individuals to pass knowledge on to the next generation at the end of their careers is a very good thing. We've talked before about teacher pay and how someone who is gifted in math/science and can be an engineer starting at $70k isn't likely to be interested in a $25k teaching position. Why not get that person in near their retirement age when they are established financially and might be willing to work for a lower salary + benefits?

If someone like my father retires in their 60s, asking them to spend 2 years of their limited productive years remaining getting a bunch of certifications that likely are unnecessary is kind of silly.

1) Because as other have said, the "best and brightest" are overkill for solving the problem, and if there were enough good science teachers to produce all these older engineers in the first place, what's the problem? We didn't need a teaching profession filled with retired NASA scientists to produce NASA scientists in the first place, so why do we need them now?

2) Like I keep saying, we don't need a person, we need people, enough people to make an impact. Not to mention that if their number of productive years are that limited, what are we really missing out on?

Basically, this all boils down to you thinking there are enough people out there like your dad to fix the system. There's not. Even hero units as powerful as your dad don't have the crowd control powers to take down a mob like the educational system (assuming the problem is qualified teachers in the first place), not in the numbers we find his unit type.

bandit0013 wrote:

@OG, no I'm saying that it is wrong that Education doesn't allow for "Comparable experience" like being certified to train nuclear engineers to be taken into account as certification that someone can teach.

Currently, seven states use the National Evaluation System's tests, 27 use the National Teachers Exam, 43 ask new teachers to pass basic skills tests, and 32 require teachers to demonstrate proficiency in the subjects they teach. Teachers have not done well on those tests. Failure rates are between 20 and 30 percent on the basic skills and proficiency tests and 50 to 55 percent on the National Teachers Exam.

So I reject your assertion that completing the education training program is of much value at all. You're making an argument for keeping people like my dad out of the field as if our education system is currently doing a good job and that the teachers in the field are exceptionally qualified. There are dozens of metrics which show this is not the case.

8 weeks of student teaching and an exam would be fine. I assert that adding 50 credit hours on your own dime at whatever outrageous rate colleges are charging these days is not fine on top of that for someone who already has a degree and verifiable experience training humans.

What, exactly is the "comparable experience" of training nuclear engineers and teaching 25 kids algebra? How are those two things even remotely the same?

That a percentage of teachers do not pass the certification tests shows that the system weeds out unqualified people. It's a bit much to say that any failure rate proves that the education and training behind it are worthless. I mean I highly doubt you'd say that medical school and law school weren't of "much value at all" because some 15% of doctors fail their board certification and some 50% of lawyers don't pass the bar.

You can reject my assertion all you want, but states seem to disagree with you. In fact, most states are tightening their requirements. These days a BA will get you in the door, in a lot of states you have to get a Masters within a few years as well as go through continuing education and training or lose your certification.

And, yes, I'm making an argument that I wouldn't want your father to teach my children unless he's actually done the prep work, education, and training before hand and the state said he's qualified. I'm sure your dad is a hell of a guy, but I'd simply like a little proof that he's actually capable of teaching before I hand my kid over to him. Like I've said before, his decades of experience at a nuclear plant doesn't matter for squat in a classroom, just like the decades of experience a teacher has wouldn't matter for squat if they suddenly tried to train nuclear engineers.

Contrary to the impression of teaching you seem to be giving, teaching isn't easy. It's hard.

IDK, I took an early childhood multicultural literature elective when I was in college. It was a 12 week course, we had to read 10 2nd grade and lower level books that featured diversity and culture, then had to write a summary on a note card about the book and two activities you could do with a class related to the theme. No tests, no quizzes, no psychological theory (which might actually have been useful). Show up, turn in the note cards, receive an 'A'.

Considering course work like that and that you have to get a 2.0 to get that vaunted diploma schools require, I'm not really shocked that half of them fail proficiency assessments.

I disagree that there aren't enough people like my dad to fill into schools. I bet by tweaking the system you could make it attractive and honorable to spend your twilight years passing knowledge on to the next generation. No one seems to have problems with apprenticeship in trade skills etc, what's wrong with taking "masters" from other fields and putting them in the classroom? Despite some reservations about qualifications going from teaching adults to children, do you really think that people with other experience couldn't be mentored in or put on a fast track training? If you go to a university website and look at the education curriculum there really isn't much in there that is specific to the method of getting little johnny to learn his A,B,Cs. Like most degree programs, it's a lot of generalist busy work, so not just education at fault there, but meh. Teaching is hard because you're dealing with humans, and there's no magic formula in the education program that teaches you to be good at that. It's learned through experience and natural ability.

Another example. My kid's school district has a crappy website. It's absolute trash. So I'm talking to the principal at one of the events and I ask him why they don't put some students under guidance and have them build a nicer website? Learn some html, javascript, toss a free database up there so they can learn data structures and basic SQL, you know, touch it up. Well, there's no teachers they have that can do that. I could do it, my company even gives time off work for "community services" which this would definitely fall under. But even though I'm great at programming and certified trainer, I would never be allowed to donate my time like this without going through all those hoops. The cost/benefit of those hoops makes it not worth my time.

Same with rules about teachers getting the first crack at paid coaching positions. The school's soccer coach is terrible. Never played the game. I'm FIFA certified, I played for 25 years, my teams dominate the local rec leagues. But I can't coach soccer for the school, even if I was willing to do it for free (which I am), because the rules are set in place to protect the club even if there would be better options out there.

Bandit, absolutely none of that says to me that you have enough understanding of pedagogy to actually be useful as a teacher. Sorry.

bandit0013 wrote:

IDK, I took an early childhood multicultural literature elective when I was in college.

So based on one education-related elective you took years ago you're confident that all education classes are an easy 'A'? So tell me how you create and maintain a lesson plan that meets the state requirements for teaching X minutes of Y subjects every year while also making sure that 25 kids of differing intellects and motivations all learn enough to pass the required standardized proficiency tests? There's a lot more to getting a degree in education than writing summaries of 2nd grade books.

bandit0013 wrote:

I disagree that there aren't enough people like my dad to fill into schools. I bet by tweaking the system you could make it attractive and honorable to spend your twilight years passing knowledge on to the next generation. No one seems to have problems with apprenticeship in trade skills etc, what's wrong with taking "masters" from other fields and putting them in the classroom? Despite some reservations about qualifications going from teaching adults to children, do you really think that people with other experience couldn't be mentored in or put on a fast track training? If you go to a university website and look at the education curriculum there really isn't much in there that is specific to the method of getting little johnny to learn his A,B,Cs. Like most degree programs, it's a lot of generalist busy work, so not just education at fault there, but meh. Teaching is hard because you're dealing with humans, and there's no magic formula in the education program that teaches you to be good at that. It's learned through experience and natural ability.

So, exactly what master skill is your father going to teach 5th graders? How to maintain a nuclear power plant?

I get the feeling you're massively underestimating the difference between decades of training professionals--people who've chosen to work in the nuclear industry, gone to school for it, and who need to pass the training to get or keep their job--and teaching young children or teenagers. I have serious reservations that someone in their 60s is going to be able to adapt to the generational gap as well as the massive difference between what type of behavior they've come to expect and what they'll experience teaching kids.

I mean there is a reason that a decent percentage of young teachers burn out and stop teaching.

bandit0013 wrote:

Another example. My kid's school district has a crappy website. It's absolute trash. So I'm talking to the principal at one of the events and I ask him why they don't put some students under guidance and have them build a nicer website? Learn some html, javascript, toss a free database up there so they can learn data structures and basic SQL, you know, touch it up. Well, there's no teachers they have that can do that. I could do it, my company even gives time off work for "community services" which this would definitely fall under. But even though I'm great at programming and certified trainer, I would never be allowed to donate my time like this without going through all those hoops. The cost/benefit of those hoops makes it not worth my time.

A couple things. One, having older folks spend their twilight years teaching is going to further widen the technology gap for teachers because I seriously doubt many of them know how to build a web site, let alone confidently use a computer. Two, you could help you school improve it's web site, but you'd likely have to do by being a teacher's assistant and having that teacher organize a Technology Club to run the project. There are hoops, yes, but that's also because there are plenty of parents who will sue at the drop of the hat and the quickest way for that to happen is having what amounts to a random stranger (you) put in close contact with students without any supervision by the school.

bandit0013 wrote:

I disagree that there aren't enough people like my dad to fill into schools. I bet by tweaking the system you could make it attractive and honorable to spend your twilight years passing knowledge on to the next generation. No one seems to have problems with apprenticeship in trade skills etc, what's wrong with taking "masters" from other fields and putting them in the classroom?

Because one, people don't wait to become "masters" until their "twilight years." If the people in a trade waited until they were in their 60s to start teaching others, that trade would die out pretty quick. Two, how many "masters" out there have twenty-plus "apprentices" a year? If you're going to cut class size down to master-apprentice sizes you've got an even tougher time trying to argue there are enough people like your dad to fill all these new classrooms you've just created.

Rather than tweak the system, I'd rather use those resources to tweak it to attract one good 25 year old teacher who is going to make a career out of it than eight 60 year olds because if they all work to be 65, that's still 40 years of teaching either way, right?

@OG

So age discrimination here, someone in their 60's can't relate to students and can't manage technology changes. It is absolutely astonishing to me that you'll put college degree educators up on a pedestal and then denigrate college educated elderly people as unable to cope with youth or technology.

Someone who writes materials for planning nuclear outages that involve hundreds of employees and thousands of regulations/processes isn't capable of learning to develop a lesson plan? I think there's more likelihood of the retired NASA guy learning how to write a lesson plan that meets state requirements than there is of your average 6th grade science teacher being able to work on the Apollo project. As I pointed out above, the well below average SAT stores of your average education major suggests that getting an education degree is easier than a technical or medical degree.

That you admit that burnout is an issue for teachers just supports my argument that it may be better to bring in people for shorter terms who are motivated to make a difference.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Bandit, absolutely none of that says to me that you have enough understanding of pedagogy to actually be useful as a teacher. Sorry.

So I went to the local state university's website and looked at the education curriculum. There are a total of 6 credit hours in the undergrad that relate to Pedagogy. That means there are a total of 72 hours of classroom time dedicated to the subject which actually support my statement that someone who already has a college degree and proven knowledge of a subject should be able to spend 6 weeks or less in dedicated training/instruction and be ready to go.

I'm done here though. Our education system is clearly great and professional members of our society have absolutely no business in the classroom.

bandit0013 wrote:

I'm done here though. Our education system is clearly great and professional members of our society have absolutely no business in the classroom. :P

I'm pretty sure no one said that, like I'm pretty sure you left off several important aspects of the curriculum, not the least of which being student teaching time, and I'm pretty sure teaching is a Profession, with associated skills that need developing. Movies make it look easy, but it's not.

bandit0013:

Not to single you out here, but I think that your outlook and that of many posters here simply reflect the low esteem in which you view teaching and the teaching profession, which probably accounts for why your educational system is as bad as it is, comparatively speaking.

The turn of phrase for others here is "Teaching is hard," or "Teaching is not easy." I'm not really of the opinion that teaching is either hard or easy. Being an architect is not hard, but you can't expect someone who's put in 72 hours of training to be fit for the job, regardless of his innate talent. There's simply a lot of topics to be covered that are thoroughly technical in nature - it's got nothing to do with talent. A talented teacher will shine in many situations, even unfavorable ones, but a well-trained teacher will perform more reliably, and generally better even than a talented one to start.

Being an ER doctor is hard, but it's really more to do with the lifestyle and the stress that go along with the job. The job skill itself isn't terribly hard for anyone who's undergone the training to acquire, assuming he has a certain minimum intelligence in key areas.

Just as an example of the things you need to know, in order to be an effective teacher, you need to be acquainted with intelligence theory, and how it has evolved through the years, and the studies that have been undertaken and are being undertaken to expand the knowledge base.

You need to have a thorough understanding on mnemonics and both the theory and the practicality of mnemonic generation and use. You need to have a solid base on child and brain development theories, both medical and psychological. This has practical bearing on the profession - there are certain things which you just can't teach a 5 year old - his brain isn't mature enough to understand. There are methods and techniques in which you can instruct a teenager that won't work with youngsters, and vice versa.

You need to be versed in public speaking and presentation.

You need to be conversant with basic information science and record-keeping, and adept in the practical application of record creation and preservation, as you will usually need to maintain your own database - in short, you're your own IT, and you will need to know how to integrate records system-wide and between other teachers.

You should have a minor in the language of instruction, even if you're not going to teach that language. It won't do you any good to be an otherwise excellent teacher if your English is so bad that most people can't understand what you say half the time. Some people will need training to remove accents or to acquire the local idiom.

All this is just off the top of my head. There are many other qualities and competencies that go into the well-made, well-trained teacher. As you can see, I do not consider just any hick who knows algebra to be a trained teacher, though he should be able to impart his knowledge in some kind of fashion if we paid him to do it. When I refer to a trained teacher, I refer to a instructor so well trained and so competent that he's a very nearly an animal trainer in the kinds of things he can influence.

An untrained teacher who's informed can maybe impart the essence of calculus to a bunch of smart college students who have a driving need or desire to learn the subject matter. A trained teacher will take a bunch of 13 year old jaded urban youth dropouts with low IQ scores and teach them the same competency, and they'll all worship him like a god for the favor.

OG_slinger wrote:

I have a friend who after 20 years in one career is working to become a French and Spanish teacher. Even though she already has a BA and is fluent in those languages the state of Indiana still requires her to take a set amount of teaching classes, additional language classes, successfully complete eight weeks of student teaching, and pass a certification exam.

These requirements are not a "union thing". They are simply what Indiana's legislature has mandated all teachers go through to ensure little Johnny isn't taught by an idiot or someone who has no business handling a classroom of 25 kids.

And in my 14 years of having at least one child in the Indiana public education system I've met my share of frankly idiot teachers. I wonder why that is?

The requirements may not be a "union thing", but keeping sub-standard teachers in the classroom at almost all costs is. (Sorry about straying a bit off topic).

And in the interest of full disclosure my oldest son is an education major in his 3rd year at a state university.

Macbrave brings up a point of contention I have with many of my unionized teacher friends, which is the absolute denial of the existence of bad teachers. I understand solidarity but only a blind zealot could claim every teacher nation wide is exemplary.

MacBrave wrote:

And in my 14 years of having at least one child in the Indiana public education system I've met my share of frankly idiot teachers. I wonder why that is?

The requirements may not be a "union thing", but keeping sub-standard teachers in the classroom at almost all costs is. (Sorry about straying a bit off topic).

And in the interest of full disclosure my oldest son is an education major in his 3rd year at a state university.

The teachers I know don't like having bad teachers around. But then again, they also don't like getting blamed by society for why Johnny can't read when the actual problem is Johnny has crappy, disengaged parents.

Teachers today are expected to magically overcome every problem, issue, or distraction a kid faces in their lives to teach them to take a standardized performance test that will determine if they get fired or their school will get shut down. At the same time they have to deal with parents either who couldn't give two sh*ts or are fully convinced that their precious child is both an angel and the next Einstein. The principal, unless you a lucky teacher, serves the same purpose as a HR rep in a normal company: willing to throw anyone under the bus to protect the school's reputation and limit liability. And then there's the state education administration and all its bureaucracy.

Against all that teachers have their union.

It's certainly not a perfect system, but I really am worried about the trend I'm seeing of Joe Sixpack completely ignoring that kids spend twice as much time with their families than they do with their teachers and yet the teacher is the only one they expect to raise their kid.

OG_slinger wrote:
MacBrave wrote:

And in my 14 years of having at least one child in the Indiana public education system I've met my share of frankly idiot teachers. I wonder why that is?

The requirements may not be a "union thing", but keeping sub-standard teachers in the classroom at almost all costs is. (Sorry about straying a bit off topic).

And in the interest of full disclosure my oldest son is an education major in his 3rd year at a state university.

The teachers I know don't like having bad teachers around. But then again, they also don't like getting blamed by society for why Johnny can't read when the actual problem is Johnny has crappy, disengaged parents.

Teachers today are expected to magically overcome every problem, issue, or distraction a kid faces in their lives to teach them to take a standardized performance test that will determine if they get fired or their school will get shut down. At the same time they have to deal with parents either who couldn't give two sh*ts or are fully convinced that their precious child is both an angel and the next Einstein. The principal, unless you a lucky teacher, serves the same purpose as a HR rep in a normal company: willing to throw anyone under the bus to protect the school's reputation and limit liability. And then there's the state education administration and all its bureaucracy.

Against all that teachers have their union.

It's certainly not a perfect system, but I really am worried about the trend I'm seeing of Joe Sixpack completely ignoring that kids spend twice as much time with their families than they do with their teachers and yet the teacher is the only one they expect to raise their kid.

Again, if the teacher makes little difference compared to the parents and the environment then why aren't you in favor of paying them less, increasing class sizes, etc? If the individual doesn't make a difference then they're a glorified baby sitter with a textbook.

You can't have it both ways. Either teachers are these highly educated specialized people who have all these wonderful licenses and ability to teach our snowflakes (and put in those stringent requirements that keep people like my dad out because you think it's "so hard" to educate) or the socioeconomic environment is the big factor and it doesn't matter. You just argued me into the ground that you need all this special training to be a teacher then when someone points out bad teachers you immediately flip to downplaying the impact of the teacher in favor of the environment.

You constantly flip between arguments, it's illogical and inconsistent, and highly frustrating to me

bandit0013 wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

It's certainly not a perfect system, but I really am worried about the trend I'm seeing of Joe Sixpack completely ignoring that kids spend twice as much time with their families than they do with their teachers and yet the teacher is the only one they expect to raise their kid.

Again, if the teacher makes little difference compared to the parents and the environment

That's not what OG said. It's not that teachers make little difference, it's that if parents don't do their job, they can make a major *negative* difference the teacher can't fix.

Think of it this way: you're going to become a weight lifter. You have a cook (the parents) and a coach (the teacher). If your cook doesn't do a good job providing you with nutrition, the coach--even a good coach--can't get your body to build muscles out of nothing.

On the other hand, no matter how good a job your cook does with your nutrition, a bad coach can squander it all.

You've confused OG saying that good parents are a necessary AND sufficient condition with him saying good parents are a necessary condition but (I assume) not a sufficient one on their own. It looks both ways to you because you made an error in understanding the logic of the argument.