kitchen table math, the sequel: chemprof on what ed schools teach

Saturday, April 10, 2010

chemprof on what ed schools teach

ChemProf said...

"exactly what do ed schools purport to teach?"

From an ed school, here are six principles they purport to teach:

Working in education is a moral act based on an ethic of care.
Working in education is a collegial act.
Working in education is reflective and inquiry-based.
Working in education is a political act.
Working in education is acquisition of subject matter and professional knowledge.
Learning is a constructivist and developmental process.

Notice -- nothing about classroom management, discipline, student achievement, or fundamentals. Lots of philosophy of education, constructivism, and (buried in the principles) diversity. At my own school, I've been to admission events with folks from the ed school. Things they talk about: reducing the achievement gap, making sure to teach history students about the genocide of American Indians and similar politically correct stuff. Things they don't: gifted students, subject matter, science/math education, actually teaching.

I'm afraid I have to agree with Barry -- this book won't crack the ed school shell. It is just too thick.

12 comments:

Catherine Johnson said...

fyi: Prior to the mid 1980s, ed schools taught classroom management & direct instruction.

I have no idea how well they taught it, but that's what they taught.

elrobotomuerto said...

I concur, great Eduspeak, no need for satire here, just plagiarize and everybody understands.

We let the supporters of schools talk it up and pretty soon the entire public will be fed up with their crack pot theories. When the number of dropouts hits 40%, I predict we should start seeing an improvement in test scores.

Crimson Wife said...

I do believe that teachers should be caring and I would like to see the "achievement gap" narrow. But I'd rather see everyone improve even if the achievement gap actually widens as a result.

Here in CA, the government-run schools get 60% of the white kids and 14% of the black kids to the proficient or advanced categories on the 4th grade NAEP math test (a gap of 46 percentage points). Let's say they are able to improve results such that now 90% of the white kids and 40% of the black kids are in the proficient or advanced categories. That would represent enormous progress for black students. A significant number of kids who in the past wouldn't have had the skill set for a decent job and/or higher education now would.

ChemProf said...

Caring teachers and happy students are great, but I'd question the order -- is caring the first priority (as it is first in this list)? I'd be happier with a philosophy that put student achievement first and then included caring and supportive teachers. Otherwise, what are the goals that these caring people are supporting?

Beth said...

I disagree. I had to pull my daughter out of a public school that put achievement over caring. My daughter was severely anxious and depressed and the school didn't give a damn because she was performing adequately.

I would add that a child who is anxious and depressed is also very unlikely to be learning much, even if she can make it through the tests.

Laura M. said...

caring the first priority (as it is first in this list)? I'd be happier with a philosophy that put student achievement first and then included caring and supportive teachers

Part of being truly caring and supportive is having high expectations for those you care for and support--it's not necessary to jettison the prerequisite that teachers be empathetic and attentive in order to prioritize achievement.

We just need to have higher standards for what being "caring and supporting" includes.

palisadesk said...

fyi: Prior to the mid 1980s, ed schools taught classroom management & direct instruction.

I have no idea how well they taught it, but that's what they taught.



Really? You couldda fooled me. I heard nary a syllable about either direct instruction or classroom management in ed school (both undergrad and grad levels, two major, separate institutions). I learned about both on the job, after the fact. This was before 1980.

I think there have always been individual education programs that taught students about behavior science, effective instructional practice, and so on, but these programs have been outliers in every decade.

momof4 said...

Palisadesk's comment fits with my roommate's comments in the 60s. She was a secondary ed major who said that there was nothing useful in any course she took in ed school; it was all BS, and taught by the worst teachers in the university. She said she should have done what one of my relatives did; undergrad major/minor and master's from Arts and Sciences and only enough ed courses to be certified (in a state and era which didn't require too many).

Robin said...

There's a new study coming out of UNC that reiterates how weak these programs are.

http://www.johnlocke.org/news_columns/display_clarion.html?id=2333 is a link to the article.

There's also the NCTQ studies on how little reading and math are in most ed school programs.

In Georgia they added a science requirement for elementary ed several years ago but the administrators wanted it taught using the hands-on discovery method. When the science profs rebelled from teaching such a weak course, a Vice Chancellor suggested it could be taught by someone from the sociology department or they'd hire special instructors willing to teach in the desired format.

Love of learning indeed.

Catherine Johnson said...

I would add that a child who is anxious and depressed is also very unlikely to be learning much, even if she can make it through the tests.

Absolutely.

Both states are huge impediments to learning.

Catherine Johnson said...

I heard nary a syllable about either direct instruction or classroom management in ed school (both undergrad and grad levels, two major, separate institutions).

I remember you once saying that new grads only know theory --- wasn't that you?

I think it was the 1980s that Madelyn Hunter was teaching at UCLA and her methods were being adopted - right?

My sister went to education school....gosh, when was it. Well, it had to be the 80s.

She was taught phonics. I think she briefly taught in Kenya, where they were using a whole language program. She explained phonics to the school and changed their program.

Catherine Johnson said...

Robin - thanks!