Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Academic Slums: Schools of Education?

American education will never be improved until we address one of the problems seen as too delicate to discuss. That problem is the overall quality of people teaching our children. Students who have chosen education as their major have the lowest SAT scores of any other major. Students who have graduated with an education degree earn lower scores than any other major on graduate school admissions tests such as the GRE, MCAT or LSAT. Schools of education, either graduate or undergraduate, represent the academic slums of most any university. As such, they are home to the least able students and professors with the lowest academic respect. Were we serious about efforts to improve public education, one of the first things we would do is eliminate schools of education.

~George Mason economist Walter Williams writing in his most recent nationally syndicated column

10 Comments:

At 12/19/2007 12:18 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I’m not sure what this article is trying to say. According to Williams, we have poor teachers because the best students are not choosing an education major. Could pay be part of the reason? Maybe. But Williams says we pay too much for education now. Another reason for students’ poor performance? According to Williams, poor teaching programs. Williams’ solution? Eliminate teaching colleges.

Let’s say we follow Williams’ line of thinking and eliminate funding and teaching colleges, are we supposed to believe somehow our children will be better prepared to compete in a global economy? I see a lot of questions, but very few answers in Williams’ article. We could use some practical solutions to the educational problems of today.

 
At 12/19/2007 1:44 PM, Blogger caveatBettor said...

Because our GDP per capita is higher than most of those other nations, we could spend a lot more on education. But given the under-performance of state schools, I think hat spending should be redesigned into vouchers.

Schools are not responsive to students and parents, as much as they are responsive to special interests and politicians. Giving families the say in which school best fits them will bring balance to the universe.

 
At 12/19/2007 2:00 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

How do vouchers attract smarter students into teaching majors?

 
At 12/19/2007 2:15 PM, Blogger Ironman said...

A summary of data supporting Dr. Williams points is available here, along with a brief discussion of why the academic programs for educators aren't cutting the mustard. The short answer is that they're not designed to develop the "strong knowledge paradigms" that are characteristic of other academic disciplines.

 
At 12/19/2007 2:55 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

From Williams' article: "Students who have chosen education as their major have the lowest SAT scores of any other major."

SATs are pre-college. It logically follows if students who are attracted to education majors have lower SATs, then, the same student will under perform on tests after completing their undergraduate degrees regardless of their college program. It still appears college education programs must attract better students out of high school. Why isn't that happening?

 
At 12/19/2007 3:03 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

You have to assume that SATs are an indicator of future college success, and LSATs . . . are a confirmation of that assumed college success to draw my conclusion above.

 
At 12/19/2007 5:06 PM, Blogger Colin said...

Abolishing educations majors isn't the answer. The answer is getting government out of education. Let the private sector educate our children.

 
At 12/19/2007 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I teach in a public high school. I earned a undergrad double major in economics and political science as well as a MA in political science before deciding to pursue teaching as a career.

I had to take numerous classes in education in order to be "qualified" to teach. Most of the classes were a waste of time. Learning how to teach is largely on the job training. The only valuable time spent in the school of education was the internship program where I actually got in front of students and taught. I would talk to my supervising teacher and discuss what worked and what did not work.

Most people entering the teaching field are "qualified" to teach a subject even though they may have had only one or two classes in that area. This in not enough. Subject area mastery is crucial to being a good teacher. That can't be achieved by taking one or two classes.

Pay teachers more it they majored in something other than education. Encourage teachers to go back to school to take classes in the subjects they teach in order to achieve mastery.

 
At 12/19/2007 6:24 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Colin,
How is getting government out of education going to entice smarter high school graduates to pursue a teaching career in public or private schools?

 
At 11/05/2008 3:17 PM, Anonymous DrPutt said...

Anonymous has hit the nail on the head. The problem is that education majors are taught that knowing how to teach is much more important than knowing the subject they are to teach. They are told that knowing how to teach qualifies them to teach anything regardless of whether they know the subject matter or not. The result is that too many of our educators aren't educators at all, but rather facilitators pretending to impart knowledge that they themselves don't have.

 

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