By 2036, the forms of teacher preparation that currently prevail in Western nations will have sunk into oblivion. We will have discarded schools of education, the pedagogies they teach, and the certification apparatus that they serve.
He goes on to note several societal and cultural factors apart from mediocre teaching that contribute to the poor quality of basic schooling today. But the main problem, he says, is that we don’t do a good job of getting truly talented people in the classroom as teachers, which in turn is a result of the way we train and certify teachers. Again from the article:
Generally schools of education recruit weak students. The average SAT scores for would-be teachers for decades have scrapped along among the lowest of all enrolled college students. The schools of education then proceed to endow these well-meaning but dull folks [Ouch! — ed.] with strangely mistaken ideas about how children learn. The wisdom on how to teach accumulated over several thousand years of civilisation is summarily set aside in favour of what some recent educational theorists have conjectured. The conjectures are typically backed by a form of social science “research” several notches less rigorous than the reader surveys in supermarket magazines.[ Ouch! — ed.]
And, of course, the students are diverted into studying “methodology” at the expense of learning much of substance about the actual subjects they will teach.
Go read the whole thing for Wood’s conclusion and what he predicts will take the place of the status quo. I will have more to say on that later.
Wood should know about the demise of education schools. Readers will remember that, as Provost and VPAA of The King’s College in New York, Wood singlehandedly dismantled the incipient education degree program at King’s before it got off the ground, using similar reasoning to what’s in this new article.
I find myself hoping that Wood’s vision comes to pass. Let me be clear: I have nothing against education majors or the education professors who teach them. But Wood is right — education majors do tend to attract the ones who cannot or choose not to deal with the depth of a major in a regular academic discipline, despite a few really good education students who buck the trend; and increasingly, the best of these bright students are abandoning the education degree for another major because they find the reality of their future as teachers to be shockingly bleak.
And on the other end of the spectrum, you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve seen from people who want to be in the critical area of elementary education — in GE 103, those were often the students that skipped class for two weeks at a time and engaged in the most blatant academic dishonesty. Read here (and the comments) for background. Somehow elementary education, which is really hard and takes an enormous amount of intellect and skill to do, ends up being the major for the bottom-feeders who just think teaching kids is about sitting around singing and making crafts all day.
Make teachers become experts in their fields and then give them financial and professional incentives to become teachers, and free them from the control of unions and the absurdity of licensure, and our schools will be transformed.
[Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs, and read the comments especially at her post.]