View Full Version : Why Johnny can't Reed

Jack Heinlen
09-23-2004, 08:03 AM
Growing Up Dumber Than Anvils

Coma In The Schools

Today: American schools and how they got to be the dark night of the mind -- why our children's heads have become vast, hollow, echoing places, like empty oil drums, and why they can't read stop signs without counting on their fingers. After today, you'll never have to read about education again. You'll know everything.

I figure a column ought to be like an appendectomy. You only need to do it once.

Here it is:

Our kids can't read because we don't care whether they can read.

Yep. That's how simple it is. The problem isn't television or drugs or even invisible pervasive dumb-rays shot by space aliens. There's no mystery about it. We just don't care. We talk a good show. But it's all talk. If we were serious, we'd do something. There are problems we can't solve, like AIDS, and problems we won't solve. Education falls into the second category.

We know how to run good schools. To teach, say, algebra to eighth-graders, get a smart teacher lady who knows algebra, and who likes adolescents, to the extent that is possible to like adolescents. Find a solid workbook with lots of problems. Trap her, the workbooks, and the students in a room. Tell her to teach -- not just sort-of teach but to stretch the minds of the libidinous little monsters, and tell her to give bunches of homework, and that the school will support her if she flunks the nonfeasors, if it means the entire class and all their relatives to remote generations and strange phyla. Then go away.

This works. It always has. We just won't do it.

Thing is, parents have to help, and too many of them don't. They aren't really interested, or they're swamped trying to be single mothers or make the mortgage, or they both have jobs and want the government to raise their children. This isn't good enough. Parents need to explain to their churning hormone wads that learning is not optional. And there have to be consequences.

Fathers in particular should speak as follows to their treasured experiments in homebrew DNA-splicing:

"Son, I don't give a faint, wan, bleary-eyed damn about your dumb-ass self-esteem. I've been forty-eight years on this sorry planet, and nothing has ever struck me as quite so uninteresting as your self-concept. All I care about is algebra. Here's an equation. No algebra equals no Saturday night dates."

If this sounds brutal, good. There's nothing like the expectation of dismemberment to boost performance. Remember, you aren't asking the impossible of the tad. If he isn't smart enough to learn algebra, he shouldn't be in the class. If he's smart enough, then he can blessed well learn it.

Kids will get away with what they can get away with. But if young Willy Bob realizes that you really will keep him in on Saturday night, and some evil-minded football player will get his darling Sally Carol with the lovely blue eyes and golden hair and nine-pound braces, and park with her on deserted back roads, well, old Willy Bob will factor quadratics something fierce. Quadratics will become an endangered species, and hide under rocks.

And I'll tell you something else. The kid will respect you for it and, eventually, respect himself. Kids esteem themselves when they have accomplished something worth esteeming. (That's a piercing insight. I may patent it.)

Granted, if people insist on performance, life won't be real easy for a few years. Teen-agers are intolerable. It's a design feature. Boys act like James Dean in a sulk. If you have a daughter, she will play your heartstrings like a bull fiddle, because girls do that, and then relapse into tyrannosaur mode and shriek. She'll tell you piteously that she'll do better, and her life will be ruined if she can't go to some concert of musical illiterates masquerading as a rock band. The answer is still, "No. I love you, but you are going to do your algebra. We are now through with this discussion."

The aforesaid works. It works better with some kids than with others, and you always lose a few, but it works better than anything else. Thing is, we aren't going to do it. The schools aren't going to improve. The teachers unions, obsessed with protecting their jobs, are absolutely in the saddle. With exceptions, but not enough exceptions, they don't like the whole idea of education, so they jaw-storm about feelings and attitudinal change and empowerment, whatever that is. We don't care enough to buck them.

Still, in moments of fatuous optimism, I reflect that it could be done. If a few hundred parents showed up at school with a rope and a focused look, results might follow. In fact, when I'm dictator, I'm going to put a bounty on the National Education Association. Bag one and bring the varmint in stuffed, and you'll get a keg of Budweiser and three free nights of bowling. It would be like duck hunting, but more satisfying.

Next I'd pass some laws. To teach in grade school, you would have to be in the upper third of the GREs, and sign a statement that you hated self-esteem worse than rabies or pellagra, and that you would teach children to read and write and know stuff and if you didn't you would be boiled into tallow and made into candles and sent to India, where they can't read at night.

Further, to teach in high school you would have to be in the top ten percent, and have a degree from a real university in the subject you taught. Not in education. You can't teach what you don't know. Then I'd raise salaries by five thousand dollars a year, each year, until I got bodacious fine teachers that you could show in the county fair.

You can catch anything with the right bait. It would be about as hard as getting ticks in a cow pasture. I reckon you might need a long afternoon to find twenty kerbillion smart women who wanted to actually contribute something to society, and get home when their kids did. I'd give'm great retirement programs and their summers completely off. Pretty soon they'd get respect from the community because they'd be worth respecting.

And you know something? It would do wonders for the kids' self-esteem. Who feels happier about himself -- a child with a decent education and the confidence that goes with it, or one who barely speaks English, can't puzzle out warnings on a table saw, and figures to spend his life sleeping under bridges?

Never happen. We don't care enough. I reckon countries just plain get the schools they deserve. That's scary.

Fred Reed

09-23-2004, 08:06 AM
he likes to say we.

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
09-23-2004, 08:13 AM
Both my parents were teachers and truer words were never written Jack. ;)

km gresham
09-23-2004, 08:43 AM
Student Sent to In-School Suspension for Piercings
Athens, Georgia Banner-Herald ^ | 9-23-04 | Unknown

Student sent to in-school suspension for piercings

The Associated Press MCDONOUGH, Ga. — A woman who moved from Maryland to Atlanta is fighting her son's in-school suspension for wearing jewelry in his pierced eyebrow and pierced lip.

Henry County school spokeswoman Cindy Foster says Corey Ranger was sent to in-school suspension at Dutchtown High School in McDonough because school rules prohobit body piercing jewelry on any area other than the ear.

Kati Monahan -- who moved from Fort Meade, Maryland to Atlanta on September eleventh for better schools -- says her son feels he has the right to wear his piercings. She believes the rule is unfair and the suspension too harsh.

She says her son is being segregated from the other students and remains in a room with cubicles -- except for lunch and bathroom breaks. She says he also has to go to the school cafeteria ten minutes before the other students so he doesn't see anyone.

She says she has hired an attorney but would like to see the issue resolved without having to take legal action. (WSB Radio)

She moved for better schools. And then set about trying to change the better schools to accomodate her child's fashion whims. Can she buy a clue somewhere? :rolleyes:

[ 09-23-2004, 09:43 AM: Message edited by: km gresham ]

Jack Heinlen
09-23-2004, 09:30 AM

While schools should have the unquestioned right to impose any reasonable dress code they wish, and this is so frivolous a suit at to be laughed out at pre-trial in any real civilization, I think body modification is a symptom.

Kids deep down want their impulses controlled, want to be directed. They aren't being, by either the schools or the parents, so they exhibit these bizarre behaviors. They are attempts, albeit twisted, to exercise control over themselves that has been abdicated by adults. If kids had the esteem Reed speaks of, born of real accomplishment, we'd see less and less of this sort of thing.

Can the kid do math, write a cogent sentence, tell what continent the American Civil War took place on, and why? He who needs purulent(some of what one sees walking around is stomach churning) fashion statements hasn't much sense of self. Knowing things, mastering things, gives a sense of self. Without it people, kids especially, with their unformed egos, turn to weird personae as the easiest substitute.

Treating the symptom via codes won't make the emptiness go away. Reed has the prescription -- really teach, really parent -- but, as he says, we won't follow it.

km gresham
09-23-2004, 09:40 AM
I think uniforms for schools are a good idea, so I have no problem with a school setting boundaries in dress. If the mother moved for a better school, perhaps she can move for a more lenient one now.

It constantly amuses me that people will move or join something because they like what is offered then set out to change it - usually with a lawsuit. If they are successful then it is no longer the thing they were drawn to.

[ 09-23-2004, 10:43 AM: Message edited by: km gresham ]

High C
09-23-2004, 09:41 AM
Originally posted by LeeG:
he likes to say we.Yeah, I kept thinking "they".

George Roberts
09-23-2004, 09:42 AM
Dr. Phil was on TV last night. He must know everything. Moved a kid from from D-'s to A's within a week.

But look at us as a group. Everyone can do everything as well as a professional with no training or specialized education. WHO NEEDS SCHOOL?

Joe (SoCal)
09-23-2004, 09:58 AM
Education is important in our home. We were never the flash cards in the womb type of parents but we are stern when it comes to homework and learning. We sent Tess at an early age to a wonderful Montessori school. She grew leaps and bounds from the day care she was in. She is one of the brightest kids in her first grade. She can read add and subtract and do some multiplying. Her greatest assets is her ability to dream and be creative. I see this most useful when it comes to abstract concepts and math, she is able to take leaps that amaze me. We sit and do her homework with her every night and during the summer we both took time to read with her. I know it looks like I spend every waking hour on this forum :D but there is a lot that happens between posts and I am a very active parent. We are involved in the local PTA my wife designs the monthly brochure.

We also live in a town that is deeply involved in the education of our children. We just voted for a $10 million science wing.

I wonder what the education system is like in Mexico where Fred is? I know Fred has not been to Cold Spring :D

Alan D. Hyde
09-23-2004, 10:01 AM
In another thread, I asked Jeff (Beowolf), what percentage of his school district's total revenue is spent on teacher salaries.

Years ago, most districts exceeded 80 per cent, and some exceeded 90 per cent for this figure. Now, for too many, it is below 50 per cent.

In many districts, way too much money never makes it to the classsroom because it is diverted into the pockets of an increasingly bloated administrative bureaucracy, which often has its own fish to fry, and cares little about teachers or classroom excellence. Administrators no longer feel that they are primus inter pares (first among equals) with respect to teachers. Too many seem to think that they're a separate and superior species... Though many don't know which came first, the Greeks or the Romans... :D

Surprisingly, if one wishes to be an educator, it seems necessary to first become educated.


[ 09-23-2004, 11:02 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

09-23-2004, 10:38 AM
"...But look at us as a group. Everyone can do everything as well as a professional with no training or specialized education. WHO NEEDS SCHOOL?"
--George Roberts

Assuming that by "us" you are referring to this learned forum, and assuming a degree of good humored sarcasm and hyperbole...
...you have a good point there.
For knowledge to be absorbed it must be relevant.
Smashing a hole in my boat taught me quite a lot about navigation, and a bit about cutting and epoxying marine plywood.
One of the challenges of teaching is to explain to the learner why the subject at hand is relevant. Poetry, for example, IS relevant, but it takes a skillful teacher to explain why this is so.

(Body-piercing is not relevant unless one happens to be an on-stage member of a punk band...)

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
09-23-2004, 10:38 AM
The schools in our area are in trouble.
Less money and bad parents equal behavior problems and less learning. Kids are sent into war zones with prison like conditions and expected to focus on learning? I thought school was bad when I was there in the 70's but it was paradise compared to what goes on now. A good teacher wants nothing to do with our school system but ex-cops and retired Marine drill instructors do real well though. :D

Then there's stuff like this......


[ 09-23-2004, 11:47 AM: Message edited by: Mr. Know It All ]

Harry Miller
09-23-2004, 12:04 PM
If teacher's unions had all the power ascribed to them by Fred and others I would expect that salaries would be higher.

With that little caveat I agree with everything else Fred says, including the part about us not really caring.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
09-23-2004, 12:14 PM
That piece has a lot of truth in it, but despite that the responsibility for educating our youth is still there. We have to find new ways, and reinforce the old ways that are important. I too, am shocked by the number of young people who don't read ANYTHING. I read roughly 100 books a year, and numerous magazines and papers etc, but it is something I grew up with.

I don't agree with uniforms by the way. Freedom of expression includes freedom to dress and look differently. Attitude is, however, a different thing. No one has the right to disrupt someone elses education with their behaviour. Education is a privilege, not a right.

09-23-2004, 12:31 PM
I think ol' Fred's obsession with rote learning of how to solve a quadratic equation is misplaced. I watched my daughter banging them out one after the other the other night by pushing a little button on her calculator. This is a productivity issue, Fred. The difference between now and thirty years ago is that my daughter has a much better understanding of what they're for. The examples she was working were much more interesting than we ever did. We were too busy imprisoned in the class room with Mr Smith trying to memorise minus b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four ac... you know how it goes. I did a lot of tiresome arithmetic. My daughter does problem solving.

Harry Miller
09-23-2004, 02:35 PM
Mr Smith trying to memorise minus b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four ac. Mr. Smith did ok, though it's all got to be divided by "2a". smile.gif
I don't think Fred's against using calculators/computers. I think he means teach them something that is challenging and make sure they learn it. I may still think you should be able to factor a few quadratics but then I don't see any use for teaching formal extraction of square roots. However, an even older fogie than me might. smile.gif

Jack Heinlen
09-23-2004, 03:31 PM
Algebra is just an example, though I think the case can be made from the point of view of brain developement for learning math through algebra and trig. I learned it through honors calculus, yet can't remember more than a few whispers. But I'm sure it was good for me, and if I needed it I could learn it again easily. Well, maybe everything but the calculus. smile.gif

But that really is beside Reed's point. I won't attempt to say it better than he already did. Substitute anything worthwhile for algebra: computer programing, English grammar, history, logic, classical philosophy, gardening, woodworking, etc.

I think it's a very good, pithy column about the failure of both schools and parents.

Harry Miller
09-23-2004, 03:40 PM
I think it's a very good, pithy column about the failure of both schools and parents. Me too, Jack

09-23-2004, 03:54 PM
"...Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"

-- George W. Bush

Jack Heinlen
09-23-2004, 04:16 PM
"That depends on what your definition of is, is."

William Jefferson Clinton

Your point Bruce? ;)

09-24-2004, 12:41 AM
Well Harry, you at least know how it goes. The three little dots were intended to indicate that I did too, but couldn't be bothered typing it out. smile.gif

09-24-2004, 12:57 AM
Hey it may be different in America, but my little story above was not really intended to be a discussion of how math should be taught, any more than Fred's use of it was limited to that. My point is that the emphasis in education I've noticed with my own 4 kids is on teaching them to be resourceful and to solve problems. My kids have certainly emerged from school with less automatic response type knowledge than I did. They aren't taught THINGS so much as how to find out THINGS if they want to. Sometimes I grant you I find the basic toolkit a bit lacking. Spelling etc., but have a look here to see how well that was taught in the old days.
It seems also that a more complex world has led to a lot of other stuff taking up time, so that the school finds it worthwhile to try to teach my sons to cook, avoid the credit card trap, avoid aids and various other forms of clap, and a whole lot of other stuff which wasn't done in my day.

09-24-2004, 01:05 AM
And just to drift the thread, why do nearly all of YOUSE people write 'loose' when you mean 'lose'(to rhyme with YOUSE). Is that actually how you spell it over there or is it just a common mistake? If that is how you spell it there of course, you're all wrong, and now that you've been told that, I expect immediate improvement. smile.gif

09-24-2004, 02:56 AM

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-24-2004, 03:51 AM
Originally posted by Harry Miller:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />I think it's a very good, pithy column about the failure of both schools and parents. Me too, Jack</font>[/QUOTE]And so do I.

Two years ago, trying to be a good parent, I made sure that Alex, then seven, knew his Times Tables.

Eariler this week he came home with a certificate, signed by his teacher, which reads:

"Alexander Craig-Bennett knows his three and four times tables. Well done Alex!"

What in Heaven's name is going on, here? :mad: :mad: :mad:

He seems to have almost no understanding of simple arithmetical operations - he has not been taught them . I wish to emphasise " taught". He has sat in class whilst the teacher talked about them, and so he knows words like "place value", "decimal" and "fraction" but he cannot actually carry these operations out.

The teacher did not know how to, or did not care to, teach the subject.

I need to teach him these things myself; I kick myself for not picking this up sooner. :(

Part of the trouble is that he is brown skinned; his white teachers expect him to underperform.

His school record sheet (he has been in the same school for five years) showed:


Home Language: OTHER

His home language is English; he reads Arthur Ransome and Harry Potter. And the "race" options were:

Black African
Black Caribbean

(an educational establishment that is unaware that China lies in Asia may have other problems... :eek: )

One very angry parent.

[ 09-24-2004, 05:00 AM: Message edited by: Andrew Craig-Bennett ]

Jack Heinlen
09-24-2004, 05:56 AM

Home Language: OTHER
Hm. By gawd that strikes me as peculiar. I've not set foot in a grade-school in years, and am not a parent, but had heard of such foolishness here in the states. Sigh. Here anyway, it's part of the affirmative action BS. Have to classify things in order to know how to allocate resources and damn the discriminations involved.

I'm sorry about your story Andrew. I assume you have something similar to our Parent Teacher's Association? Years back that was one avenue for pursuing grievances. If not, it may be time to form one. Perhaps just a parents association? Like Reed says, band together with the like-minded and raise a stink! Perhaps I'm being naive.

09-24-2004, 06:08 AM
Jack, speaking of "we". Is there a public library nearby where you could read to pre-school age children?

[ 09-24-2004, 07:09 AM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

09-24-2004, 06:10 AM
Let me help you out Jack, read to LeeG(ihad). :D

Jack Heinlen
09-24-2004, 06:27 AM
No Stan, I think Lee has a valid point. We who by reason of not being parents have more time on our hands could do much to help out. It involves all of us, parent or no. The kids of today are going to run the world I grow old in. Setting aside altruism, we all have a vested interest in this.

P.S. Shamus, re lose and loose. It's just poor spelling. Blame it on self-esteem based education, and too much reliance on the spell check. ;)

[ 09-24-2004, 07:32 AM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

09-24-2004, 06:41 AM

I forgot, it takes a village. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

[ 09-24-2004, 07:46 AM: Message edited by: Nightmoves ]

Harry Miller
09-24-2004, 06:48 AM
Shamus I sure wish they'd lose the loose too.
One of Fred's points that applies especially to mathematics is that the teacher must know what (s)he is teaching. Not just the specific skills at hand but also how these will be useful later on. Some important skills in mathematics are not intrinsically easy or fun. Teachers who are not aware of the relative importance of the various topics they are teaching will spend lots of time on these easy sections giving shorter shrift to the hard parts. Thus we have kids who have spent lots of time playing with tiling patterns but are not very good with integers or common fractions.
There. That hobby-horse hasn't been exercised for quite a while. smile.gif

Phillip Allen
09-24-2004, 07:05 AM
Loose vs. lose...guilty! It's like spelkling sugar; a word I must have spent a week on back in ancient times. To this day, I still hang on sugar when I have occasion to spell it. Note the misspelling of spelling above, just to point out another failing of mine...having learned typing on an old (then, new) Underwood typewriter; I have need for keys which resist the pressure of my fingertips. The additional 'k' in the word spelling is a result of resting my fingers on the keys...not of not knowing the proper spelkling...

09-24-2004, 07:18 AM
Jack, the reason I mention it is that one of the socializing activities young parents do for themselves and their children is go to the Library and participate in receiving the word. It's non-sectarian, fun and provides some of the early development that FRED appears be clueless about. I say clueless in that the algebra he uses doesn't compute: "their churning hormone wads that learning is not optional"
Anyone who sits with a three year old reading or playing blocks or kicking a ball knows learning is inate. And that working the formula with 'churning hormone wads' at the age where dates matter " No algebra equals no Saturday night dates." is too late in the game.
Reading to a group of three or four year olds is better than sliced bread.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-24-2004, 08:03 AM
Originally posted by Harry Miller:
Shamus I sure wish they'd lose the loose too.
One of Fred's points that applies especially to mathematics is that the teacher must know what (s)he is teaching. Not just the specific skills at hand but also how these will be useful later on. Some important skills in mathematics are not intrinsically easy or fun. Teachers who are not aware of the relative importance of the various topics they are teaching will spend lots of time on these easy sections giving shorter shrift to the hard parts. Thus we have kids who have spent lots of time playing with tiling patterns but are not very good with integers or common fractions.
There. That hobby-horse hasn't been exercised for quite a while. smile.gif Harry, I do think that you are absolutely right
and that this is the diagnosis of Alex's odd approach to maths, a subject, by the way, that he "enjoys" (what he enjoys doing is not yet clear to me).

Ed Harrow
09-26-2004, 08:20 PM
A person who shall remain nameless, unless he/she decides otherwise, called me today and, amongst other stray bits of conversation, knowing that I was interested in education, asked me my opinion on Fred Reed’s essay.

“Our kids can’t read because we don’t care whether they can read.”

Who’s we? Like any generalization, there are holes in this one. Kids, in general, are damn quick studies. Don’t believe it?
· How long before a baby learns to smile? Better question – Why does a baby learn to smile?
· How long before a baby begins to learn to walk, or to talk?

Kid’s learn what is “important”, and they learn what is important from their family. If the family sits around watching TV all day, should we be surprised their kids are slow learning to read? Kids are mimics – that’s how they learn to smile, talk, and yes, read (or most anything else along these lines for that matter)

“We talk a good show. But it’s all talk. If we were serious we’d do something.”

There are, of course exceptions to this, but in general he’s on the money.

“This works. It always has. We just won’t do it.”

This (the paragraph in Reed’s essay above that quote) works for some. Throw a sufficient quantity of 6 year-old humans into a pig sty and come back in 12 years and there will be a couple who’ve mastered Latin and Calculus. Does that make it a quality pig sty?

Education is a process, and it is a process that we have failed to master, again and again. Building a car is a process. If one went down to their local car dealership to purchase a new car and found that only two out of 100 were totally functional, would you consider that line of cars a quality product? If 50 out of a hundred were totally functional, would that meet your measure of quality? If that is your idea of “work”, well I guess you’d best crawl back under your rock.

“Thing is, parents have to help, and too many of them don’t”

Bingo! Flashing lights! Alarms alarming! However, “Parents need to explain to churning hormone wads (damn, but he is funny) that learning is not optional.” TOO LATE!! WAY TOO LATE!! We’ve had something close to 25 kids of various younger ages pass through our house and, tho some may not like this analogy, it’s the best I’ve been able to derive. Kids are like bullets, once they’ve left the rifle barrel, changing their trajectory will be difficult, painful, and EXPENSIVE. By my experience I figure kids are out of the barrel at about 2 years of age.

If parents have done their work right, then “Fathers” (I’m using this word in the biological sense) will not have to say, “Son, I don’t give a….” because their child will understand the value of education, the way, (well maybe not quite) a black lab understands the value of a tennis ball. Such words as, “Son, I don’t give a…” were never uttered in this house, neither to our daughter, nor to any of the foster kids we had.

Speaking of respect, “The kid will respect you for it…” I reminded of Shakespeare’s “They move only in command, never in love.” What a load of crap; “Of course I’ll still respect you in the morning.” I don’t want Finbar to come to me, or sit, or stay out of fear; I want him to do those things because he is rewarded for doing them, and that reward most likely is nothing more than, “Good boy!”

“The aforesaid works. It works better with some kids than with others, and you always lose a few.” You bet you loose a few, which of those cars on the lot are we discussing? If one wishes to build a quality process, you don’t do it by loosing a few.

A teacher is not one who gets certain scores on tests. Whether the miserable excuse for an English teacher that I had in the 11th grade, or the equally miserable excuse for a Calculus professor that I had later, it matters not. On the other hand, I, and I’m certain many of you, had sources to whom you could go for assistance with one problem or another. I can list a few, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll stick to Bruce. He was one of my sources at my previous employer. I could go to him with any question (and no question was ever too dumb) and Bruce would “take” me to the answer. He’d ask questions, leading my to discover the answer. Teachers are born, not made. There may be exceptions, but I can’t point one out from my limited experience.

Having said that, I think our program wherein people “choose” to become teachers at some rather young age is a large part of the problem. Who better to demonstrate the value of Algebra or Trig than a person who has actually used them in the real world. Yes, to some degree, probably a large degree, this is a task that could be done by parents, but as we’ve already discussed, parents, largely, don’t. Mine didn’t, and I’ll bet few of yours did. My parents we’re/aren’t ignorant. My father was a research geek, and my mother (91) holds her MA in Shakespeare from Columbia. My father certainly was no teacher.

So, who should teach? Those who’ve done time in an appropriate line of work and who, for whatever reason, are interested in teaching? Now, take Bruce, Dr Bruce, PhD. Brilliant engineer with a great “bedside” manner, LOL. He couldn’t teach in MA now because he doesn’t hold a Masters, or even a BS, in a subject taught in high school. No question he could teach any math, or physics class, out of the box, but his MS and PhD are both in “Engineering” not a course offered in high school… But he is one of the best teachers I have ever had. As for those at the top of their classes – when teaching offers rewards like those in bio-tech then we’ll likely find more high-quality bio grad students teaching high-school biology.

I’ll close with Dr Maturin’s thoughts on the subject of teachers:

[T]eaching young gentlemen has a dismal effect upon the soul. It exemplifies the badness of established, artificial authority. The pedagogue has almost absolute authority over his pupils; he often beats them and insensibly he loses the sense of respect due to them as fellow human beings. He does them harm, but the harm they do to him is far greater. He may easily become the all-knowing tyrant, always right, always virtuous; in any event he perpetually associates with his inferiors, the king of his company; and in a surprisingly short time alas this brands him with the mark of Cain. Have you ever known a schoolmaster fit to associate with grown men? The Dear knows I never have. They are most horribly warped indeed. Yet curiously enough this does not seem to apply to tutors; perhaps it is scarcely possible to play the prima donna to an audience of one.

Dr Stephan Maturin in The Ionian Mission, # 8 in the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian.

09-26-2004, 09:05 PM
...and like an elusive steelhead, I work the hook out with my tongue and then ptooey! I'm heading back upstream, hoping to lucky ;) .

See Harry, it's not that hard, afterall. smile.gif

And remember kiddies...

If you don't eat ch'er meat, you can't have any pudding. tongue.gif


09-26-2004, 09:11 PM
Why are so many teachers graduates of what used to be called teachers' colleges. Why do teachers in public schools need to hold education degress and to be certified? I think that a lot of the education establishment purpetuates mediocrity.

I imagine this conversation some 2,300 years ago:

Phillip of Macedonia: I'm looking for a tutor for my son Alexander. Are you certified by the Athens Department of Education as a teacher?

Aristotle: No. But I've studied ehtics, philosophy and politics for decades. These subjects will prove useful to the future King of Macedonia. You may have heard of my mentor, Plato?

Phillip: Was this Plato certified?

Aristotle: I don't believe so. But he was probably Athen's greatest mind. His teacher was the immortal Socrates.

Phillip: Okay, was this Socrates certified or did he at least hold an education degree?

Aristotle: I'm afraid not.

Philip goes on to hire a certified teacher with an M.Ed. from Macedonia State College. Alexander goes on to be, not the Great, but merely the Ordinary.

Harry Miller
09-26-2004, 10:03 PM
Andy, Fred seems to agree with you:

Further, to teach in high school you would have to be in the top ten percent, and have a degree from a real university in the subject you taught. Not in education. You can't teach what you don't know. Jeff, :D
Ed, I got all the way through the O'Brian series without finding that reference. I think I read The Ionian Mission out of order. Nice to hear from you and especially answering the question I was wondering about,

Peter Malcolm Jardine
09-26-2004, 11:33 PM
Simply because you know a lot about something doesn't mean you are a good teacher. Remember your professors :eek: :rolleyes: :D

My best teachers were people who could make the process of learning ANY kind of information more interesting.

ACB: an alternative answer :mad:

Race: Yes

Home Language: Yes

Sex: Yes

[ 09-27-2004, 12:34 AM: Message edited by: Peter Malcolm Jardine ]

Harry Miller
09-27-2004, 07:37 AM
Simply because you know a lot about something doesn't mean you are a good teacher Quite true, but, it's an essential starting point.

09-27-2004, 01:20 PM
Our children's school had some well-meaning English teachers who had a different take on grammar and punctuation rules than ones we were taught. Our kids had plenty of homework, and after it was corrected by the teachers it would be sent home for us to initial and return to the teacher. We thought this was a good practice and looked forward to seeing what the kids were learning. However, my wife felt the need to correct the teachers' corrections and explain to the kids why the teachers' corrections were sometimes incomplete or wrong. (She used a blue pencil where they used a red one ;) )

At a conference one day a couple of the teachers registered some concern that my wife was doing this, but they had to agree that her corrections were accurate. The disappointing thing about their agitation was that they seemed to be more concerned that their standing in the childrens' eyes was being diminished rather than that their grammar and punctuation teaching skills were lacking. Go figure.

The kids tended ask my wife for help with their compositions after that, which was not an altogether bad thing.

Nonetheless, the kids all got a better education at this school than I got when I was their age and they are all launched more or less successfully into the world. :D