Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bad news regarding education

I don't study education, but I have seen these kinds of statistics before, and it always depresses me....

"Research indicates that persons entering the teaching field had lower SAT scores than their non-teaching, college-graduating peer and those leaving the profession had higher scores than those remaining as teachers. In addition, the scores of those majoring in education were lower than those of graduates who majored in another field. Those who came to teaching without prior preparation, such as student teaching, had higher scores."  Source: Social Change in America, The Historical Handbook 2004.  Edited by Patricia Becker.

K-12 teaching is as difficult as it is important, so it's a shame that we can't keep the smartest teachers. I've read before that this is an argument for raising their salaries... to keep the best people (who are presumably also the smartest, though, perhaps not).



Danny A. said...

You said "it's a shame that we can't keep the smartest teachers." I think it is ignorant to think that someone's "smartness" can be measured solely by a man-made test. Some very brilliant people that I know (several with above average IQs) received scores that were in the "slightly below average to the slightly above average" range, and one reason for this may be that they are simply not good standardized test takers.

And think about this: isn't there more that goes into a "good" teacher than simply "smartness"? I've met some extremely intelligent math professors (for instance, my former Calculus teacher) who were horrible at teaching, even though I'd be willing to bet they scored above average on their SATs, because they were cold, couldn't connect with students, had a hard time being social in general, etc. Think back to the K-12 teachers in your life that were the most influential to you. Was it solely based on how smart they were, or was it because they were perhaps also mentors, friends, guides, etc. who were there to show acceptance and compassion in a very crazy time in your life?

While it is a shame that teaching doesn't appear to be as dignified of a profession as it used to be, I would be wary of making such a generalized statement as "we can't keep the smartest teachers."

Just a few thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I have to concur with Danny A. but with a slightly different perspective to add of my own. I have been taught by a Mathematician who previously worked at NASA and was highly intelligent but who was simply unable to teach us at a level that his students could understand. Being unable to put yourself at the level of the student makes it very difficult for the student to learn. One of the best math teachers that I ever had was a man who slowly plodded through each of his examples so that I could see exactly how the NEW math was being executed. I suspect that a brilliantly intelligent teacher would be bored to death with the rate at which this teacher progressed.