Monday, January 28, 2008

A Former Teacher Writes

I received the following letter -- edited to protect the writer's identity:

"I went to ___University. It was very expensive but I needed something close since we didn't have a car. Previous to taking my Master in Education I had completed an Honors Bachelor in Chemistry at the University of ___. That program was academically very challenging and I was shocked to see how little was required of me during my Masters.

"Grades were a joke, everyone received an A as long as we showed up. Basically we were taught that we were little nothings who had to dress nice and suck up to the Principals at the schools where we student taught. It was never even suggested to question the government's decisions about content standards and standardized tests. We were simply told that if we ever wanted to find a job we had to make it extremely obvious that we knew the standards inside and out and would teach nothing but those standards to our future students.

"At the same time as preaching about the standards, the teachers emphasized the importance of "student centered and guided learning." The teachers conveniently forgot to mention how exactly you allow for student guided learning if you can only teach the standards. Basically "certification" means that you have agreed to teach what the government wants against your better judgement.

"At both my teacher's college and the school where I taught for one year, all my peers complained about the terrible state of the education system but did not do a single thing to make it better. I guess in reality they were all afraid of the government, afraid of rocking the boat, making too much of a fuss and losing their job. After all, keeping your job and being able to afford your oversized house, car, and life is all thats really important, right? If it wasn't fear that prevented one of my peers from making an attempt to improve the state of the education system it was the feeling of helplessness. One person can't do anything against such a huge buracracy so why bother, right?"

The writer lasted one year in public school teaching, proving that high-achieving people are not attracted to such jobs or, really, even the training for them. My wife, Luz, went through a Masters of Ed. and feels the same way -- that it was a waste of her time and money.

School is hell for the teachers, too. Are the administrators too dumb to notice?

1 comment:

Keith Brainard said...

This reminds me of a woman I know that teaches Spanish at the high school level. As a native Spanish speaker that has learned English as a second language, she has a pretty good understanding of how people learn language. She got a job in a "good" school system, and was immediately stymied by the stupid ways that they taught the language. Her appeals to the administration were routinely ignored - after all, she was just a new teacher, what does she know about teaching? Needless to say, she didn't last too long there. It's just not worth it to fight against the big structure to try to get sane ideas heard.