A Shot Against the Bow - Dean Quam?
Abolish Colleges of Education
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, new "normal schools" were created --colleges to train teachers. Established universities also added schools or colleges of education. There is mounting evidence that this was a mistake. It is time that public policy turn to doing something about it.
My wonderful CCAP Whiz Kids have written blogs exposing one huge scandal --that grades in virtually all schools of education are uniformly high. The best and brightest are treated the same, roughly, as those of medicore intellectual or interpersonal qualities. Looking at a sample of literally scores of institutions, the Whiz Kids found that the typical student earned a grade of A or A- in education courses, while the median grade in, say, economics courses was a B-. Yet I would bet $1,000 against $1 that on average the intellectual rigor in the economics classes was far higher than in the education ones. We offer Feel Good instruction emphasizing raising self esteem in education schools, crowding students out of legitimate courses in subject matter.
The proportion of college students majoring in education has undergone a deserved decline. But most teachers in K-12 settings today were either majors in education or took lots of education courses. And to what result? The overall student performance levels in the U.S. K-12 schools are embarassing low, although that reflects a lot of other factors beside so-so teaching.
Teachers in the Teach for America program do a great job by all accounts, and few of them have had the mindless education courses that most states require.
College professors teaching 18 and 19 year old kids are winning teaching awards (I would immodestly include myself) never having a class in how to teach. Yet they are forbidden to teach 17 year olds students in high school because they lack these vacuous courses. My own son was a Teacher of the Year nominee in his first year of middle school teaching --before he had taken any education courses. The examples abound.
Mediocre standards --or no standards--in education schools have returned to bite the colleges. We turn out teachers with mediocre basic knowledge skills but firm indoctrination in promoting student self esteem. A decade later, the products of these teachers return to study at the university --and often they are pretty mediocre, since the teachers have not challenged them to learn basic facts and principles on which our world depends.
Your thoughts, Dean Quam?