Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tales From The Classroom

("Tales from the Classroom" is a feature posted occasionally here at this blog.  All tales are true and present matters about which I have personal knowledge.  The following tale relates the story of an experience that I had in January 1971, when I was taking my first course in education so as to certify as a teacher in secondary school)

Dr. Evers, an elderly professor who taught Foundations of Education, the first required course for teacher certification, was a piece of work.

A real piece of work.

One could make the case that Dr. Evers was merely senile.  Or one could make the case that he was a rabid Leftist.

Whatever.

All students seeking teacher certification at the university had to take this one course from him.

The course itself was quite easy and mainly dealt with the history of public education in the United States. Of course, much emphasis was placed on child centered education as the predominant educational philosophy. Please see 5 essential characteristics of Child Centered Education for the details.

Came the day that Dr. Evers make the following statement during one of his lectures: "You should not make students memorize anything.  They'll learn facts when they need to know them."

Many of us enrolled in the class had already garnered some teaching experience, formal or otherwise, and we exchanged incredulous glances.

I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  Too much of a non sequitur was involved!

"Dr. Evers," I said, "do you mean that we shouldn't have students learn their math facts?"

He replied in the affirmative.

"Following your logic, sir," I calmly said, "I shouldn't learn what you're teaching in this course.  I'll learn that material when I need to know it."

A deafening silence ensued. Dr. Evers glared at me.

I didn't get an A in Foundations of Education.  A grade lower than a B was not justified.  I got the B and didn't bother appealing to the dean.

We enrolled in Education Foundations had another go-round with Dr. Evers when he made a statement about the oppressiveness of a student dress code.  But that is a story for another time.

Note: It seems that Dr. Evers's philosophy of no-facts-allowed education has now taken over our educational system.  Please see THIS.

19 comments:

  1. I think many of these people have good intentions, but their ideas are silly. Education is one of society’s “complex” institutions, and so the art and science of teaching is difficult on so many levels. But college professors (the people who drive the train, so to speak) are pressured to publish, and so they do. They publish nonsense and market it as the answer to all of our education problems. I can’t say that you and I have seen it all, but I can say that we’ve seen enough nonsense to last a life time. One UVa professor told teachers at an in-service meeting that assigning grades to students harmed their egos and destroyed their future educational achievements. And then there was the group who wanted to teach black kids in Ebonics, “so dat dey lern.” If he is still alive, I’m sure Evers still has “no clue.” It makes sense that he was a leftist, doesn’t it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mustang,
      One UVa professor told teachers at an in-service meeting that assigning grades to students harmed their egos and destroyed their future educational achievements.

      Pffft!

      How can they attain future educational achievements if they don't have the necessary blocks to do so?

      Passing out good grades in such a fashion will cause the house of cards to collapse.

      Dr. Evers thought that every word that he spoke was a nugget of wisdom. If my recollection is correct, nobody in his class though much of his nuggets of wisdom.

      Delete
  2. Sheesh. I will defend that system to a small degree: it is the basis of the Montessori system, which depending on the child either works really well or really horribly. For me, I thrived on it- being naturally curious, a bit tactile and a ball of energy, the freedom to learn whatever I wanted allowed me to excel past my grade level. I entered middle school, in all areas except Grammar and Spanish, ahead of my private-school peers. But, the system had its many drawbacks: no rules meant I had a bad reality shock upon entering a private Christian school (180 much), and the subjects I did not enjoy I fell drastically behind in.

    But no memorization? That makes no sense! I am fairly anti-memorization, but even I agree a child needs to know some basis! Montessori or not, we were required to learn our math tables, parts of speech, cursive and print, some basic history dates, etc. Once we finished the basic curriculum we could go farther if we so chose to, but there was a minimum. And if the teachers caught you NOT doing the minimum you would get in a load of trouble. Every day we had to show the teacher our journal of what we did that day, and it had better show some learning. Bookworm that I was I got in trouble often for simply reading books or reading the computer WorldBook (kinda like a CD wikipedia) all day long.

    Yeesh. That professor needs his head examined. A completely free system does NOT work, humans are too naturally lazy! And everyone has to know SOME basics, or else be utterly useless to society and utterly unable to actually learn anything.

    Oh... and that math. What even the heck. Okay, that estimate is utterly absurd... and even if it wasn't, have kids lost the ability to do head-math? Why teach them to estimate it instead of, I dunno, do the problem correctly? Estimation is useful for quicky math in the real world, but in school its rarely a good idea to use it...

    -Wildstar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wildstar,
      Clearly, the Montessori system has some advantages -- particularly in early learning, when a child acquires knowledge primarily through areas of strength.

      However, at some point, a reality sets in that certain standards should be met, IMO. We cannot forever march to the beat of our own drummer!

      Delete
    2. Wildstar,
      Possibly of interest to you:

      Work with mentally disabled children

      After graduating from the University of Rome in 1896, Montessori continued with her research at the University's psychiatric clinic, and in 1897 she was accepted as a voluntary assistant there. As part of her work, she visited asylums in Rome where she observed children with mental disabilities, observations which were fundamental to her future educational work. She also read and studied the works of 19th-century physicians and educators Jean Marc Gaspard Itard and Edouard Seguin, who greatly influenced her work. Maria was intrigued with Itard's ideas and created a far more specific and organized system for applying them to the everyday education of children with disabilities. When she discovered the works of Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin they gave her a new direction in thinking and influenced her to focus on children with learning difficulties.


      This is not to say that much of work didn't have value. It is interesting, however, to see what got her off and running with her innovations.

      It is also interesting to note the following:

      Middle and High School: Montessori education for this level is less well-developed than programs for younger children. Montessori did not establish a teacher training program or a detailed plan of education for adolescents during her lifetime....

      Perhaps there is an age limit to the effectiveness of the Montessori Method?

      Delete
  3. At what age did he feel learning should be directed?

    My grand niece is free to choose her interests and at 4½ she is reading quite well, writes her name in cursive, adds 4 digit numbers and recently learned the names of the states.

    Pretty self directed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duck,
      So far, things looks wonderful for your niece.

      But -- trust me on this -- not all students are as versatile as your niece. Most students need to be pushed into attaining that same kind of versatility at some point; otherwise, they develop "tunnel learning."

      Delete
  4. Most of us -- at whatever age -- enjoy working within our areas of strength.

    I will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I could gladly work all day long with words and grammar. As a young child, I evinced strengths in those areas. However, knowledge of other subject areas, some of which did not come easily for me, is just as important.

    And here's something else....Discrepancies in performance IQ's are hallmarks for labeling individuals as learning disabled. If anyone works exclusively or almost exclusively in one's area(s) of strength, sooner or later discrepancies in those performance IQ's will become apparent -- and, possibly, academically crippling.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The half-baked professor along with programs designed to lower standards in our colleges and universities, have helped to produce people unqualified to run business, serve in Congress, perform at any cabinet post, or as we have seen in Barack Obama, serve as President of these United States. Conferring degrees on people because they happen to be black, or female, or Hispanic does nothing but endanger future generations. Affirmative action is going to result in the death and suffering of innocent people. We have produced several dismal generations, and we are going to pay a very high price for our stupidity, for our lethargy as a people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam,
      In my view, lowering standards has a political purpose: dumbing down the electorate.

      From where I sit, the dumbing down of the electorate has been inordinately successful.

      How much incompetence can any society have and still remain a viable society?

      Delete
  6. I should have mentioned in the blog post that Dr. Evers's class was not only for elementary school teachers. In fact, the situation was the contrary! Most of us in the class were destined for careers in secondary education.

    ReplyDelete
  7. And to prove his point I give you President Obama who is still waiting for that usable moment.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love these segments.

    At George Peabody College for TEACHERS, yes for teachers, years ago ....

    They decided that teachers did not need to know the subject they were assigned to teach. They simply had to know the basics of teaching. That didn't work out very well.

    Now I heard here in Tennessee that in order for teachers to continue to be certified, the test scores of their students had to be considered. Students test very good, teacher gets her credentials continued. Students test poorly, teacher doesn't get re-certified. So what does this teach the teacher? Give the kids the answers ahead of time, teach to the test, or suffer the consequences. Not sure the students actually learn much this way.

    'm so glad that I can comment again, for some reason Google would not let me and the Name/URL option did not show up.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Debbie,
    From time to time, I restrict the parameters as to who can comment. Trolls and all that.

    Students test poorly, teacher doesn't get re-certified.

    Sometimes a teacher can teach her heart out, but the students still do not test well. In addition, some students don't test well -- no matter what. If teachers' certifications depend a great deal on the way that their students perform on tests, then the temptation for teachers to cheat can become intense.

    Back when I worked at the best private school for which I ever had the privilege of teaching, when students' test results weren't what they should have been, we teachers sat down with the administration and addressed the matter in a logical matter; in other words, we analyzed and problem solved. Worked like a charm!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just followed your link from Western Hero, and I must say some of these loons in education are so far off the beaten path. I pity the college students these days over what they're being spoon fed. Two of my best teachers told the classes to be fair & balanced (my journalism teacher Mr. Itnyre from my community college days) and the other told us to stay away from a certain shady venture in the industry I studied for. Vern Carlson was a man who worked in the motion picture industry, and told us in a film and television lighting class to stay away from the porno film industry at all costs. He knew people who had gone into it, and seen some of them self destruct as a result. Vern never worked in that field because he had the integrity and self respect to say no to it. He also warned us of the weasels in the film and media who would stop at nothing to attempt to sink us into doing vile things in order to advance up the ladder of "success" in the workplace. Those are valuable lessons that liberal nutbag professors hide from their students.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear that education professors today are even worse than Dr. Evers. No wonder that teacher training today often ruins these prospective teachers!

      The Left now holds at least 70% of the control of higher education today. **sigh**

      Delete
  12. Mystere's Moonbat Slayer Club,
    Your comments were caught in the moderation folder. I have now published your comments.

    ReplyDelete

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