Friday, June 01, 2007

Are the kids shy or just stupid?

Apparently asking students to raise their hands if they think they know the answer to a question in class is a bad thing.

Ok I will admit it, I was, and still am, one of those little Hermione Grangers. I answered at least two-thirds of the questions asked by my teacher in 8th grade U.S. History. I still answer as many questions as I can in law school.

I also know a lot of kids hide in the back of class and try to stay off the radar. I do like the suggestion that the teacher pick a child at random to answer the question. In law school they do this. Some professors even make you stand. I think this is a good system. It keeps the kids on their toes and requires them to do the work if they do not want to look like an idiot in front of the class.

The other ideas, asking the question then giving kids 30 seconds of "thinking time" or telling them to discuss it in small groups for a short period are both asinine.

Number one, both take too much time. It is better to try to get an answer and move on. If the kid in the front wants to answer the question let them. I doubt that the kid who is in the back trying to avoid the teacher's gaze even knows the answer.

The small groups thing is a recipe for disaster. Once you let a bunch of giggling ten and eleven year olds freely interact, getting control back will take a Herculean effort.

The one thing that I dislike about this article is that it never blames any poor student performance on teachers. It places all of the blame on parents. While parents do deserve a lot of it, so do teachers. It is their job to make sure our kids are learning.

The reason I bring this is up is because teachers do not get their fair share of the blame when it comes to poor student performance. They are the proverbial "Sacred Cow." I cannot remember the last time I heard anyone suggest that perhaps the teachers are somewhat culpable in the death of education.

Lets face it folks, here in America, we do not send our best and brightest in to the teaching profession. This is not meant to offend, but most of the public school teachers I have dealt with in my life have been intellectually unimpressive. In fact, I myself have little to no respect for public school teachers. I see them as little more than glorified babysitters. This assessment is bore out by the fact that the Education departments of major universities contain the students with the lowest IQ's, the lowest test scores, and the worst GPAs.

Yet, in America you rarely hear any real criticism of teachers. All you hear is the blatant falsehood that they are "under paid and under appreciated." More money is always the answer and the bureaucracy grows.