Wednesday, December 23, 2009

TEACHERS - December 24, 2009

So we have finally heard the solution to the fact that the standings of American students in the international comparison continues to fall, as measured in the master of one’s native language and the command of elementary mathematics. And the self-appointed wizards of education have put their finger on one cure-all: fire the teachers. And this firing will be put in the hands of people hired by an establishment consisting of many who know no more than the people badly enabled by the last generation of teachers. No one tells us where we will find the people who will do better in the classroom. In fact, the supposed experts have found no way to improve the facility of those being turned out by the departments of education. It is developing that very few of those who teach even in high school have qualifications comparable with a BA in Mathematics, and the situation is even worse in Physics and only slightly better in Chemistry, while the expertise of most elementary teachers of Arithmetic display no understanding of the subject better than the ability to get a good B in an 8th grade test. But many people who are themselves anarithmetic consider that they know who is a bad teacher. Worse, many of them take the word of their children and the children’s classmates. In the meantime, ever fewer of the entrants to our university know what was taken as the basis for pursuing a scientific education a mere 5o years ago. But that does not prevent them from imagining that they can make a wonderful difference by firing people the principals finger out as incompetent and replacing them with others of equally shabby preparation. People with the rare competence to handle difficult conceptual problems are lining up to get to Wall Street, not to our overcrowded, underpaid, harassed and criticized classrooms. The evidence is there for us to see. The cure-alls are just snake oil.

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