Back in Action
For those 5 folks that apparently visited here yesterday, sorry for my absence – spent the day in a classroom on the UES (Upper East Side, for you non-New Yorkers) observing 4th graders. It’s funny, sometimes I truly believe that the whole purpose of requiring prospective teachers to be certified or earn their masters degree or otherwise attend college before becoming a teacher is not to actually teach them how to be a teacher, but rather to teach them how to deal with the stultifying bureaucracy and government intervention that they will inevitably encounter when they enter the educational system.
To this point I’ve spent about a year and a half in grad school, paying for the privilege of supposedly learning how to be an elementary school teacher. During that period, I’ve also spent about twenty hours in various classrooms doing mandated observations. I would be confident in saying that I’ve learned about ten times as much about actually being a teacher during those observation hours than I have during the three semesters I’ve spent in grad school. It’s sickening. And I guess this isn’t really a revelation for a lot of people (myself included), that colleges today exist primarily to justify themselves, that unless the government mandated a certain degree in order to enter a profession many colleges would go out of business.
But the fact is, teachers, particularly elementary school teachers, do not need a masters degree, or even an undergraduate degree. This is not to say that being a teacher, on any level, is easy, or that the profession should be open to anyone and everyone. There are definite skills that are required to be an effective teacher. Among these I count patience, intelligence and creativity. But the majority of these skills cannot be (and are not) taught in a college classroom. Throughout my entire masters program, I will not take a single course on classroom management. That is, I will not be taught how to effectively run a classroom.
Instead, I have been required to take an entire semester on “Diversity.” I have spent an entire semester being taught how to properly analyze a children’s picture book, how to pay proper attention to the multicultural aspects of the work in question. I am currently spending a semester learning how to teach math to children, but instead of being taught how to, say, teach an actual math lesson, I’m instead spending my time learning how to properly incorporate culturally diverse names and life experiences into word problems. I kid you not.
To this point, I have spent a total of 7 years in post-high school education, between undergrad and graduate studies. I have also spent a year teaching pre-K and more than four years in the general workforce. I am intelligent, driven and patient. And yet despite large-scale teacher shortages and a surplus of ridiculously underqualified teachers already working in schools, the government deems me currently unfit to teach an 8-year old how to read and write. Not only that, but the government’s solution for preparing me to be an effective teacher doesn’t involve putting me in a classroom and letting me learn from actual elementary school teachers. That would make far too much sense.
Sorry, this wasn’t supposed to be nearly this long. Just got on a rant and had to let off some steam. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.