October 27, 2005

Dr. Sowell

. . . points out that many educators perceive bright students to be a sort of "problem" that must somehow be gotten around.

Well, shit. I know I was.

Posted by Attila at October 27, 2005 03:03 AM | TrackBack

Been there done that. It's infinitely more frustrating though to watch it happening with my son.

Posted by: tommy at October 27, 2005 07:40 AM

A problem or bright? :p

On a related not I had a converstion with one of my civil professors and the conversation somehow trailed into teaching math and he related the story of how his wife clamped down on him correcting his kids math teachers for not actually understanding or teaching properly their subject. Of course the same cannot be said for one of the adjunct profs who in his day job runs a water district who has no problem expressing his feelings during parent-teacher conferences on the teacher's grasp of the subject, of course if you had to deal with California's Regulator Agencis on a daily basis you'd be a bit jaded too.

Posted by: the Pirate at October 27, 2005 08:05 AM

Math teachers can be particularly awful.

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 27, 2005 03:27 PM

Yep! I had a calc prof who answered each question the same way:

"Well," he say, gesturing toward the board, "it's intuitive. It's just intuitive."

Posted by: Averroes at October 27, 2005 04:33 PM

Favorite part of the article:

Let's face it: Most of the teachers in our public schools do not have what it takes to develop high intellectual potential in students. They cannot give students what they don't have themselves.

GOT-TA LOVE IT! (clap. clap. clapclapclap).

Posted by: El Conquistadore at October 27, 2005 10:46 PM

It should be a calling--or at least something one is willing to commit some intelligence to. It shouldn't be what you do because nothing else worked out.

People always claim that the problem is salaries. And partly, it is. But a lot of teachers wouldn't mind making a modest salary if they were only given a little more respect. Unfortunately, the stereotype of "those that can't do, teach" perpetuates itself.

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 28, 2005 02:24 AM

Well, I am a votech teacher. The difference between us and acadmeic teachers is .... we have to have worked at least 5 years doing what we teach. It doesn't make me a higher life form, in the educational world, we are generally considered second class citizens. Not that we care. However, we do need to students to apply math and language everyday, at least in a basic way. Sometimes in conversation, the kids serve me up revelations. For example:
When asked one on my students told me he asked his algebra teacher, “Why do I need to learn algebra?” The answer, “So you can balance your checkbook.” (doncha love unknowns when you balance yours?)
I asked one student, “What are you doin in class back at your homeschool?” She answered, “We are reading a book.” I asked what the title of the books was, she didn’t know. I asked what it was about, she didn’t know. I asked why she didn’t know, she said, “Well the teacher is reading it to us in class and I don’t pay attention.”

Once attending a math department meeting with the math teachers at (name withheld cause .. well just because). They had no idea of what a student had to do with regard to measuring tolerances in restoring a unibody car after a collision. No idea it involved more than a hammer and body putty. Ohms law … you do that in electronics?

In short, they have little idea of how math is applied, to them, it’s just a job from womb to tomb, so shut up, sit down and flunk if you want.

Posted by: jim b at October 28, 2005 09:10 AM

Jim...I think most students would be much more interested in math if they were taught a bit about how it is applied. Too often, it is taught as pure symbol manipulation by people who don't themselves really understand what they are doing.

Posted by: David Foster at October 28, 2005 10:09 AM

I know people who think it's more fun when it isn't applied, but one has to be at a certain level to enjoy it in that way.

What it should be presented as is fun. And that never happens.

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 28, 2005 11:01 AM

I always hated those Votech guys myself, since it is all opaque to me.

But we should remember that Richard Feynman got his first exposure to math in books his dad had used to teach himself a little practical math, such as "Calculus for the Practical man." MANY studenjts NEED practical application to learn.

me, i couldn't learn calc until i found someone who taught it abstractly, without the then-popular dependence on analytical geometry.

Remember also that the old saw has two parts:

Those who can't do it teach others to do it. And those who dan't teach it, teach others to teach it.

Actually, i taught at the high school level for a couple of years, in a state and situation where they cared more about whether you could actually teach what you were supposed to rather than waht degrees you had. At a conference, a veteran educator explained why the education field is awash in screwy ideas about teaching, particularly in math, when it has been taught for centuries.

"No one ever got a PH.D in education by writing a thesis which said that the way we've been doing it works pretty well."

The Votech model is right. i had a P-Cehem prof who had gotten rich on some inventions and investment after working in industry for 20 years. he retired, and tried to take a job teaching high school chemistry, something he always wanted to do. They couldn't hire him becasue he didn;t have the 30 credits of undergraduate education courses that state required, despite his Ph.D. and his expoerience in the field. Fortunately, the University could hire him.

Posted by: Averroes at October 28, 2005 07:17 PM

That's why a lot of the best teachers land at private schools; they just don't want to jump through all the hoops required to work for a municipal school district.

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 29, 2005 01:06 PM

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