Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Teachers from another planet

Okay, I'm not getting this. At all. Kentucky School News and Comment reports on the Met Life Survey of the American Teacher. It reports on what teachers believe after 25 years of reform. Among them:
  • Academic standards and curriculum are stronger.
  • Teachers are better prepared.
  • Students are better prepared, more ambitious, and more trusting of teachers.
I have not yet verified on which planet the report conducted its research, but on this one I don't know if there are three beliefs more thoroughly discredited. Does anyone really believe this? Especially teachers?

No wonder we're in so much trouble.

7 comments:

Lee said...

Martin, when somebody tells you something stupid, it does not mean he is stupid, or even that he thinks you're stupid. Could be he's just hoping you're stupid.

Hope this helps. ;-)

Susan Weston said...

My eldest was born five years after Nation at Risk, and she's practice teaching now and organizing civics tutoring. The planet has been rotating the sun and the world has been changing all around us.

By and large, this generation of kids have better manners, better information, and better relations with their elders. The generations are, by and large, enjoying each other's company in a way I've never seen. I find it completely plausible that teaching is far more rewarding as a result.

Lee said...

Susan, those aren't the kind of observations you can support with data, which is interesting since your byline describes you as an education policy wonk.

So if anecdotal observation suffices, allow me to say that my observations lead me to the opposite conclusions regarding our young charges.

Tuesday Morning said...

From what I've seen, the educational focus today heads in one of two directions...either to make all of our children sanctified eco-warriors, or prepare them to "succeed in today's economy," both of which have an unpleasant odor.

My anecdotal evidence suggests that while kids might (or might not) be 'nicer,' they're certainly not more virtuous than their predecessors (boomer generation excepted).

Lee said...

Agreed, Tuesday, and one other thing: schools aren't supposed to be training kids to have better manners and better relationships. They're supposed to be learning. The other stuff is nice, but it's the learning that is the crucial part.

And not just learning, but learning the right stuff. I'm intrigued by the Classical Education movement, which teaches children a Greek philosopher's approach to thinking and applying thought and knowledge. That stuff is much more important than feeding kids a list of p.c.-driven pabulum and having them regurgitate it on command, and, worse, giving them the impression that they know something.

Tuesday Morning said...

Lee,

It's fearfully fascinating. Here in Michigan, one of the most 'respected' high schools in the state defines its educational focus as "economicology." You can imagine what goes into that.

On the other hand, I interviewed with a college in Massachusetts some years ago. It was a small school that, in the president's words ended up with many of the students who couldn't quite pass admission to the ivy league. Bottom line is that they had a lot of kids from wealthy families that had done very well in high school and scored decently on their standardized tests. The problem (as the school president explained) was that the kids had no moral compass. In studying business, they were fantastic with recognizing opportunity, crunching numbers, doing the analysis and seizing the moment. It's just that they didn't identify with the concept of ethical behavior in the entrepreneurial process. The president (to his credit) was fearful of graduating market-place monsters, when in fact the problem began long before the kids ever reached his school.

Personally, our homeschooling household leans toward the Classical Education you mention. It is everything it's cracked up to be, though I don't expect many current educators to recognize its' worth. So far we've been enriched with and enjoyed the following subjects:

Latin
Greek
Roman History
Traditional Logic I & II(plug for Martin)
Horatius at The Bridge

It's like uncovering lost treasure.

Lee said...

> It's fearfully fascinating. Here in Michigan, one of the most 'respected' high schools in the state defines its educational focus as "economicology." You can imagine what goes into that.

Let me guess: in a world otherwise free of values, the highest value is avoiding global warming and worshipping Gaia.

I don't know who coined this phrase, but I wish I'd said it first: environmentalism is school prayer for liberals.

> The problem (as the school president explained) was that the kids had no moral compass. In studying business, they were fantastic with recognizing opportunity, crunching numbers, doing the analysis and seizing the moment.

The school president was probably just fine when they banned school prayer, though, and probably didn't see any connection.