“Teachers are morons”

Not my view.  Vox Day.  I can’t resist kicking his arguments when he’s down.

Agree or not? Put it in comments.

5 Responses to “Teachers are morons”

  1. Onkel Bob says:

    It’s one thing to know the subject and another thing to know how to teach it. I recently passed the CSET, California’s tests for teaching, in General Science and Biology (CSET’s 118, 119, 120) in one 5 hour sitting. The problem is my B.A. is in Art History! OK, I worked in the computer sector for 20+ years and so know more about physics (802.11 and fiber optics were my specialties) and chemistry (manufacturing PCB boards) than the average Art Historian. Nevertheless, I washed out of teaching school because as a single guy w/o children I was in terra incognito, I could not manage the classroom.
    FWIW, I am the preferred TA in the college classroom. All the students love my seminars on writing, Art & Art History, and Science. So if the students want to be there, then teaching is not difficult. If the scenario is Oakland Unified, then the stakes are higher and the obstacles as high.


  2. dorid says:

    Teaching may not be rocket science, but it involves skill sets most parents don’t have. Car mechanics isn’t rocket science either, but I wouldn’t trust my baker if the check engine light comes on.

    I have to agree, the quality of teachers has gone down, and I think a lot of it has to do with how poorly teachers are paid. When I went to take my L.A.S.T (a requirement for teaching) there were candidates there who had failed it a number of times. Now I’d been told over and over how tough this test was going to be, but I found it pretty basic. I don’t think anyone should get out of college PERIOD if they couldn’t pass a LAST (minus the teaching specific sections)

    That said, what billiant teachers ARE out there are usually so confined by their districts that it’s rare to see them shine. There are so many layers of administration in the schools now that teachers often have little say over the texts adopted and how they teach. Some schools in the south have “scripted classrooms” where every teacher reads from a script and the students respond verbally from a script (totally rote learning!)

    The problem isn’t that teachers are idiots (even the ones with less than sterling educational records) But that a lot of parents are idiots. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago when girls didn’t go to school except to learn how to sew and cook and put together a great dinner party for hubby’s boss. We have a lot of history to overcome.

    Homeschooling often fails because parents are ill prepared to teach. Generally it’s the mothers who are teaching… and only in families who have stay-at-home moms. Families like that typically are “traditional” … or backward… with Dad and mom carrying out stereotypical roles laid out by their culture/ religion. In other words, the person with the least education and who personally values education the least is teaching the children.

    While their intentions may be the best, early childhood studies show that parental enthusiams and parental education levels have a greater impact on a child than just sitting them down to teach them (studies on early childhood literacy). Having ignorant parents educating children only produces ignorant children.

    I suppose that for those who are religious, this is actually an ideal state. The children will not be exposed to different ideas or critical thinking. Since religion is something the parent is more likely to be enthusiastic about, the child is more likely to become religious.

    Of course, that’s one of the major reason to homeschool anyway. Frankly, the intelligence of the teacher is hardly an issue if you don’t want to expose a child to critical thinking anyway.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    At the ESU where I first taught, business majors were where the low SAT score-getters hung out. One learns not to generalize, I think. I didn’t hear from parents so much as from the athletic department, concerned that their star pitcher/outfielder/forward/ halfback would lose academic eligibility . . . in every case, mine was just one of several classes the kid was failing.

    As to correcting the answer keys: I remember the delight my friends and I got when we discovered our 7th grade math teacher — a brilliant mathematician — regularly sent error notices to the Encyclopedia Britannica. He and his brother, a physicist, each had a set and combed the books trying to beat each other in finding formulae and computational errors. It seemed to me that people had enormous power to fix errors, a feeling that multiplied when we catalogued the errors in our high school history books so the next year’s kids wouldn’t suffer from them, and again when, as an undergraduate, our argumentation professor comped us all copies of the textbook he wrote, in galley form, on the understanding that we were to seek out all errors. Spelling errors were almost too easy — we sat up in the library tracking down his footnotes to make sure the citations were right and the summary of the research articles was correct.

    Teachers open doors, change lives, inspire kids, and touch the future — all cliches, I know.

    Vox is slamming teachers just for the fun of it. Any serious study would note, as W. Edwards Deming often did, that these problems are 15% the teachers, 85% the management, administrators, elected officials and electorate. Vox Day is unfair, and inaccurate as a consequence — worse than my high school history book.

    Good stories, Flatlander — drop by and leave a comment more often, will you?


  4. flatlander100 says:

    Well, of course teachers are not, as a class, morons. However, it is also true that as a class of people, I think it is very likely the overall intelligence of the group “teachers” has declined not-insignificantly over, say, the last 40 years.

    The evidence is partly anecdotal, partly generational. [Once women’s lib got going seriously, all kinds of careers that had not as a rule been widely open to women became so. Which meant that many many very intelligent, very educated women who had ended up as teachers [preferring not to be nurses or secretaries] in previous generations began in younger cohorts to become doctors or lawyers or bankers or historians or chemists or whatever. The “talent pool” so to speak shrank as more and more opportunities for professional careers out of teaching opened up.

    Secondly, and I do not pretend to know how this happened, in many places [not all], the Education Schools became havens for the under-achieving, the marginally intelligent, and the poorly educated.

    Let me tell you a story. I used to teach at an ESU [Enormous State University] with a large school of education. One term, I got a phone call from the parents of a young woman in my history survey class [required for prospective teachers, all levels]. She was failing. Her parents were both teachers in Mid Sized Upstate City. They told me they knew their daughter was “not bright.” But they very much wanted her to have a college degree, and they knew the only degree she had a chance of earning was an Education degree. And if I could see my way clear to pass her, they would promise me that she would never teach anywhere.

    Sigh. When things like that happen, it’s not at all surprising that there is a significant number of people who think teachers [as a group] are none too bright.

    And the anecdotal evidence just keeps coming. From my own experience: child came home with a work sheet explaining how the “Continental Congress wrote the Constitution.” [Elementary school.] Being an American Revolution historian, I sent in a polite note to the teacher indicating this was in error. I got back a shirty note telling me some people said one thing, some said another, and if I was unhappy with the content of the work sheet I could write to the publisher. On another occasion, after pointing out an error in the “answer sheet” of a “math program” worksheet [again elementary school] — not complaining about grades, just letting a colleague [I thought] know that there was a mistake in the published answer key, I was told by the teacher, umbrage in her voice, that [I quote exactly. I have never forgotten her words.]: “I am not responsible for the accuracy of the grading keys.”

    That happens to you often enough [and you hear other stories like it from other parents], you start to wonder….

    Yes, I know excellent teachers, dedicated ones, who I’d be honored to have teach my children any time. Some of them have taught my children. But there are enough of the other kind out there, the kind reflected in the anecdotes above, that I’m not surprised people start to wonder… particularly if they have little contact with schools and do not know the dedicated, the well educated, the talented, the best of the teaching corps.


  5. How does he manage to get it almost right and then veer completely off the cliff?

    “Teaching isn’t rocket science. Anyone of normal intelligence is perfectly capable of it, especially if one is dealing with five or fewer children. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to prevent a child from learning, as that is the natural instinct of the developing mind. The wonder of the modern American public school system is that it manages to do shut down that natural process.”

    Carl Sagan said something very similar about schools shutting down the learning process, and as far as I am concerned it is a demonstrable fact. I could tell you stories from when my kids were in school…

    But it is not true that anyone of normal intelligence can teach children. Or be an entire curriculum unto themselves. Because that’s what this is about, isn’t it? The religious homeschoolers want control of curriculum. Wouldn’t want any history or science that disagrees with dominionist doctrine, would we? Rocket science isn’t the issue, it’s evolution and US history.

    Teaching is a profession, and like all professions it requires professional commitment and training. Schools are buffeted on all sides by various political considerations. Amazing that any learning gets done in that storm.

    (Full disclosure; I am a staff member at a university founded as a normal school and known today for its college of education)


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