Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In the Future Our Teachers Will Come From Space
A Thought on Education Generated by the Events in Wisconsin
"Universal education has created an immense class of what I may call the New Stupid, hungering for certainty yet unable to find it in the traditional myths and their rationalizations." —Aldous Huxley

 Teachers should make a lot more money and they should be a lot easier to remove for incompetence. Teachers need unions, but the teachers and the unions need to see themselves as a professional guild which jealously protects the quality of its membership.  A teachers union should be the first party to act to remove one of its own who cannot perform. We need better teachers. How do we achieve that?
I want to get teachers who are expert in the subjects they will teach and I propose that they be paid well for that expertise. Therefore, candidates for the teaching profession should have a degree in a real subject, at least to the Masters level, and then get an education certificate as an afterthought. A teaching certificate shouldn't take more than six months to  a year to earn. It should be earned as a simple practical exercise with  mentors. A teachers union/guild should set high academic standards for admission. In my experience most teachers have an insufficient grounding in the subjects they teach.
Alternately, if someone has enough practical experience and expertise in a subject to pass a stringent examination, academic credentials could be waived.
We now observe the strange phenomena of teaching "professionals" who keep going to school to get higher degrees in subjects related to education which are primarily useful for becoming high paid administrators. These administrators are more interested in education as a meta discussion more appropriate to the training of a prison warden than as a process to transform  ignorant children into informed, thinking adults. A teacher who earns an advanced degree in a subject that is actually being taught rather than about the process of education should be monetarily rewarded and subsidized for the effort.
We cannot expect academically weak teachers to produce strong students. I would rather take my chances hiring an intelligent, interested, person who has knowledge in subject curriculum to instruct children than a trained "teacher" who has spent more time immersed in education technique, theory and philosophy than any subject one might need to know to become anything but an accepting slave.
The selection of teachers now is akin to signing stat-geeks and superfans to play on a baseball team. You will end up with a motley group physically unsuited to the task of playing baseball who, in theory, know what it takes to win, but don't have the tools themselves to do it. 

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