Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ed school nuttiness

One of the major travesties in education are the education schools. One of my recommendations for a new and improved NCLB law would be to declare an education major a disqualification for teaching. Prospective elementary teachers should be required to major in an academic subject. Education courses can be tagged on if they meet a set of criteria to be determined.

This radical solution I am proposing received a new impetus when I was looking around other education weblogs and came across this post at Right Wing Nation. The good prof unearthed samples of course offerings at an ed school in Indiana that are geared more to political indoctration in a particular ideology than to turning out effective, knowledgeable teachers. Theses examples could be replicated countless times at other ed schools.

Here is what ed majors can choose from:

E 305 Infusion of Technology (3 cr.) B One of the goals for the Democracy, Diversity, and Social Justice Program is to infuse the study, use, and teaching about technology throughout the entire program. Rather than being a tool that preservice teachers learn about, technology will be studied as a subject and a means to expand research opportunities, stimulate and enhance models of inquiry, and broaden teaching abilities.
What on earth does technology have to do with Democracy, Diversity, and Social Justice?

E 320 Envisioning, Exploring, and Creating Our Social Worlds Through Multiple Literacies in the Elementary School (9 cr.) B This interdisciplinary course explores the social studies as ways of knowing about our world; the language arts and language learning theory; aesthetics and the arts; and the multiple roles of the teacher as facilitator of learning, social researcher, and curriculum creator. A field experience is included.
Here we have another example of the corruption of language. Literacy is now literacies and can mean anything under the sky. How about concentrating on turning out fluent readers and writers who can put together coherent, articulate and error-free sentences and paragraphs?

E 322 Diversity and Social Justice I (3 cr.) B Students will develop curricula for social studies, language arts, aesthetics, and the arts that responds to multicultural and disability concerns. Curriculum planning and teaching strategies will attend to issues of student diversity in home and community contexts and school settings.

E 326 Diversity and Social Justice II (3 cr.) Students will develop curriculum for mathematics and science that responds to multicultural and disability concerns. Curriculum planning and teaching strategies will attend to issues of student diversity in home and community contexts and school settings.
In all this responding to multicultural and disability concerns the concern for what these students should know is lost. Are these multiculturals really from another planet that makes them unsuitable for a core, agreed-upon curriculum good for non-multiculturals?

E 324 Teaching Mathematics and Science for All Students (9 cr.) This course prepares prospective elementary school teachers to teach mathematics and science in an integrated, discovery-based environment. A major goal of this course is to promote student familiarity with the conceptual understanding and skills necessary for teaching in a manner that promotes the inclusion of all pupils. Constructivism, the History and Philosophy of Science, and Technology and Society comprise three strands that further the aim of democratic teaching as applied to mathematics and science.
I'll bet the "democratic" discovery-based environment excludes a lot of students who need special attention and explicit instruction.

10 comments:

Myrtle Hocklemeier said...

"the multiple roles of the teacher as facilitator of learning, social researcher, and curriculum creator." But not "subject matter expert"

The ed. college nearest me requires applicants to their program to not only submit a vita but also an autobiography. The intrusion into one's personal life and mind begins before the first course is ever taken.

Jonathan said...

I spent a good chunk of my ten teaching years pushing back against fuzzy math.

I see that I may spend the next ten pushing back against "back to basics."

Teachers in the classroom don't have the luxury of being effective AND espousing extreme views.

So here it goes: it's important to have a content area major (esp for upper grades), but trying to teach without pedagogical training is very difficult. The ed schools push things too far, in some cases much too far, but moving to the opposite extreme is worse, banning them, is probably much worse.

rightwingprof said...

"trying to teach without pedagogical training is very difficult."

You're making the understandable but mistaken assumption that ed schools provide pedagogical training. Did you see that study that came out a couple of months ago where the overwhelming majority of teachers said that ed school did not prepare them to teach in the classroom?

Ed schools have substituted political indoctrination for pedagogy (subject matter went out in the trash many years ago).

NYC Educator said...

I don't think pedagogical training is the problem. But nebulous courses in nothing aren't helpful either. I was not politically indoctrinated, by the way. I just listened to smiling professors talk about establishing "learning stations" in the back of the room, and starting little libraries for the kids. At the time, I didn't have either books or hope of getting them, ever.

Learning stations indeed.

The best training I ever got for being an effective teacher was one semester when I couldn't find a job anywhere and landed in a special ed. department, with kids who were the very worst I've ever seen.

I wasn't licensed or trained, and I wasn't very good at it either, but the price for anything less than constant vigilance was total chaos. If I were teaching an ed. course, I'd focus on achieving and maintaining classroom control, without which nothing whatsoever is possible.

My ed. professors could not control a group of teenagers if their lives depended on it. That's a difficult thing to do. While I agree that subject knowledge is vital, you have to be able to control the kids.

Not everyone can do that. And that course on "multiple literacies" is just not gonna be much help. I don't even know what that means, and it would not surprise me in the least to discover the professor doesn't either.

Jonathan said...

It's so easy to have the answers without asking the questions...

I've been to ed school. I've taken lousy courses. But I alos took some that have proven useful to teaching.

I watch new teachers come into the system. And I see how poorly many (not all) but many teachers without real pedagogical training fare.

Seeing teachers and seeing studies, not the same thing.

rightwingprof said...

"I've been to ed school."

It shows.

Chanman said...

The very first course I had to take in my credential program at Chapman University here in California was entitled Voice, Diversity, and Social Justice. How quaint.

rightwingprof said...

"The very first course I had to take in my credential program at Chapman University here in California was entitled Voice, Diversity, and Social Justice. How quaint."

And how irrelevant to teaching or education.

NYC Educator said...

I'm reminded of when I needed an ESL license, which entailed 24 credits in ESL plus 12 in foreign language. I wanted to work, I needed those credits, and I needed them yesterday.

While trying to enroll, an education professor urged me to take a course called "School and Community" which, he assured me, would change my life.

Despite trying very hard for a long time, I was unable to explain to him that I wanted to go to work, and that changing my life would pose a very inconvenient delay.

Ruth said...

Now that a multicultural ed course is mandated for all ed majors, the best we can hope for is a course that at least raises the question of the legitimacy of the course. That, after all, would be "allowing all the voices to be heard" as they say. Don't count on it, though.