Thursday, April 27, 2006

Life in Education School 
I was in a graduate education program in Hawaii for a while, back in 1993 or so.

90% waste of time and money. Eventually, I stopped even buying the books, and still got A's.

The two exceptions were a class on special education, which was actually quite good, and a class on education philosophy, which was well-sourced, with a lot of reading. But that guy had a real degree: Guitar performance from Berklee College of Music.

We hit it off right away.

For the rest of them, it was basically either nonsense, muddle-headed pap, with a few decent classroom techniques worked in between.

The fad was heterogenous grouping, and the people were hostile to anything that smacked of tracking.

I was an AP student in high school, and if it wasn't for tracking, I would not have bothered with school at all.

So right away the School of Ed and I didn't see eye to eye. It wasn't exactly because their position had much foundation in research at the time, either. It was a bunch of people who were mediocre students themselves who later became college profs in the only field mediocre students could get A's in graduate level courses wanting to feel good about themselves.

I told them if I were an AP or "gifted and talented" student, it wasn't my job to be a surrogate teacher. And they sure as hell didn't want me to be a role model!

My position was that even if all classes were heterogenous, students would track themselves, anyway.

I never got the credential, because I couldn't figure out how to teach for free for months and still cover rent in Hawaii. I did teach on the payroll for a semester as an emergency hire, and enjoyed it. High School Band. Yes, I had no life.

But I couldn't get student teaching credit for it, so I left the education system for good.

The weird thing was, in those days, I was a mainstream Democrat! Not a conservative at all! And I was still put off by those people.

No wonder we have a shortage of good teachers. Sharp, smart people with a lot on the ball and who have some other options don't want to waste their time with those clowns. And so they don't.

Teaching is tough.

Teaching is challenging.

Why not make education school just as challenging?

And why not make a concerted effort to recruit strong people from other careers? Not just pay lip service to it and still make them take these stupid classes. Get them into the classroom quickly, and support them right away.

After one full-time four-week boot camp during the summer where they get a crash course in ADA, administration, and a few other musts, get them into the classroom early. These people would be successful, serious people transitioning from other careers. Have them teach a half day and take classes AT THE SCHOOL, NOT IN A UNIVERSITY with a master teacher another half day. After a semester or so, you should get a basic credential. Pay them in the meantime.

Believe me, if you made it simple, and didn't waste peoples' time, you'd get a lot of takers. From strong candidates.

For anyone who wants a Masters, it ought to be as challenging as any other Masters program. Why should we pay people thousands of dollars extra for the rest of their careers for a simple ticket-punch? Make them rise to the occasion. Most will. The ones who can't don't warrant the extra money anyway.

Splash, out


Its not just the Education Schools that are having issues. I started at Kent State University, after spending half my school career in DoDD schools, and the other half in civilian schools filled with miltary kids used to DoDD schools. I too was an AP and Honors student in High School (throughout the majority of school really). I lost all faith in the US's higher education system when I got to Kent State University. My freshman year I was required to take at least one other honors course (I had to take Hon. English) to keep my room in the Honor Hall and Dean's Scholarship. I chose what I thought would be a useful (Criminal Justice major) and fun course. We used the same textbooks and curriculum as my junior year, regular joe Spanish class. Amazing. Its no wonder there's a moral bankruptcy and ineptitude infiltrating our schools across the board.
Same graduate education student that commented on the "professor" at UCLA here....

The university I am going to does have a "classes at the school" program, but it only accepts 30 students for each run of the program, it only begins in the fall semester, and slots fill up quick. Still don't get paid for whatever you do in the school. I would have loved to do that program, but I couldn't afford to not work while earning my degree.

I started last summer with two classes and cut back my hours at my job to 20 hours a week (classes only during the day in summer school). Long semesters are night classes for the "regular" Masters in Education students, so I enrolled for 3 classes and worked 30-hour weeks. Through this semester, I have a 4.0 average. I've always been a good student, but I never have had a 4.0 GPA. With my undergraduate GPA, I had no problem being accepted (minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75), but I still had to take the GRE. I smoked the "required" (or was it "preferred") combined score of 900.... (with a minimum 2.50 undergraduate GPA)

Anyway, except for the research class (this semester) that in part replaces doing a thesis for this program, classes have been pretty easy (for me). Some of the people in my classes scare me. I think "I don't want THEM teaching any child of mine (if I had kids...)". Lots of people were recently inducted into Kappa Delta Pi (both undergraduate and graduate students). I'm pretty sure I'll finish Magna Cum Laude. I expect two A's for sure, and either an A or B in the research class. Four more classes this summer (and no more work), student teaching (for free) this fall, then I hope to line up a job in the Killeen school district so I can teach those little Army brats at Fort Hood. I'm a "retired" one, so I can relate (although my dad retired in '91 and was never in a war zone). I might get in trouble if I taught in a big, liberal school district....
Over 20 years ago I went to a very small non-catholic private school that cared a lot and tried real hard to provide a good education on a shoe string. They took excellence where they could get it to fill a teaching spot. In 10th grade they brought in a semi-retired pharmacist to teach science, and though I was just in a basic course at the time, by the time we were finishing up the year we were doing chemical compositions and stuff that you usually don't learn except in full-blown chemistry and physics courses...and I loved it. The guy knew his stuff, he loved his stuff, and that came thru in his teaching. He did not have a teaching degree and could run circles around any "real" teacher in both experience and ability to make the material come alive for the students. A voucher system where results matter more than feelings would solve not only the problem of our education schools, I have a feeling it would also eventually weed out the proffessors like the one in your previous post.
Why is it that anyone with a PhD or sometimes a masters degree can walk into a college and start teaching without ever taking a single education course, but that same "subject expert" wouldn't even be considered to teach at an elementary or high school.
You've got me, RWR... I had an older man in my elementary math class last semester that had been teaching a long time (private school?). He had other advanced degrees and had taught at the college level. However, since he didn't have a teaching certificate, he was not going to be allowed to continue teaching unless he got one. Doesn't make any sense to me! And I've had some bad experiences with college professors that knew the subject matter (specifically, Personal Income Tax when I was earning on my Bachelors from 1988-1992, and the ONLY class I've ever dropped...), but didn't have a clue as to how to actually teach it to someone!
Believe me, it's even worse in a technical program. There are some absolutely brilliant professors doing state-of-the-art research, but they can't teach to save their lives. We coddle our kids in grade school with "perfectly" written tests and teachers spoon-feeding them. Then, we toss them over the fence into the totally uncaring and demanding envrionment of freshman "weed-out" courses in a technical undergrad program. Why not expect more from the students and teach them in the same manner and to the same standard that they will be held for the rest of their lives. In other words, "Learn quickly, perform well, and succeed."
What is 'tracking'?
"Tracking" in schools is like putting all the "good" students in one class and all the "poor" students in another. Some students would be on a "college prep" track, others are not. That kind of thing in schools today is generally frowned upon, because you're "labeling" students and might hurt their little egos and self-esteem.
Thanks, Lisa.

So, that would be like what Europe and Japan do.
It's not at all like what Europe (I'm guessing you mean Germany? Or do other countries do the same thing?) and Japan do. In those countries, you take some test which determines for ever what your track in life will be.

In "tracking" in the US, if you do really well, and show you can work, you get moved up. If not, you get moved down. I managed to get a 'D' in English one year and was stuck out of honors English for two years while I worked my way back. (And after seeing what "regular" English class was like, I was more than willing to put in the work!!)

You reap what you sow. Hmm. It's almost as if you had to take responsibility for yourself or suffer the consequences... (What a crazy idea!)
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