The Real Problem with Secondary Ed

The real problem with secondary education isn’t that there is too little money. It’s that many teachers are completely ignorant and can’t teach. If you sit in on a class taught to 14-year-olds like I recently did, you’ll notice that the actual teaching of actual material takes up about 5% of class time.

And now let me tell you why this happens.

We prepare teachers of Spanish in our department. In order for them to get certified by the state, we have to teach these students together with the Department of Education. The Dept of Education consistently and aggressively squeezes out all of our Spanish courses. The students end up graduating with barely four courses in the subject matter that they will be expected to teach. So of course they don’t know anything. They can barely speak Spanish. Instead, they take idiotic courses like “Teaching a Gifted Child” (yes, seriously), “Teaching a Diverse Classroom” (super relevant in Southern Illinois), or “Foundations of Quantitative Reasoning” (which is definitely more important to Spanish teachers than stupid old Spanish).

The Dept of Education extorts us in crazy ways, forbidding us from teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays or from requiring students to take courses we usually require.

It’s a vicious circle because these ignorant teachers send us completely ignorant students, and we are stuck trying to teach them really basic stuff. Then they graduate, and the whole thing repeats.

I definitely agree that students need a couple of classes in basic pedagogy if they want to be teachers. But not at the expense of their actual discipline! And pedagogy, not ideology or filler aimed at helping unpopular professors fill their classrooms.

Let me repeat: the state is doing its darndest to force us to produce ignorant, unqualified teachers. You can buy 5-course caviar meals for each student and that won’t compensate for the indignity of a Spanish teacher who took 4 courses in Spanish in their entire college career.


2 thoughts on “The Real Problem with Secondary Ed”

  1. Comment on:
    The Real Problem with Secondary Ed

    This is terrible, as you say. The mathematics and science teacher training programs are subject to similar pressures, but it has not reached this level of insanity.


    1. Our mathematics department is really struggling with this. Only 50% of their students pass the edTPA. They simply don’t have the time to get the students ready for it.


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