Friday, January 13, 2012

Dumber Than Dirt

Mayor Ass Wipe wants to pay teacher who graduate in the top quartile of their class up to $5000 a year for 5 years to repay student loans.  Did the Mayor actually graduate from college?  If he did, he should know that the best and the brightest are not the most capable teachers.  They cannot empathize with kids who have trouble learning.  I bet he would feel differently if he had an MIT professor with a Phd trying to teach him remedial math or even an introductory calculus class.  These guys find the material so easy they cannot understand how average mortals cannot comprehend.

This is just another example of the piece of crap the city elected mayor saying and trying to do things he knows nothing about.


Lsquared said...

Hmm...I'm not sure I agree on this one. (Not that this sounds like anything but a good PR announcement, of course).

I don't think it's their intelligence (and how easy it is for them to learn) that makes many research professors make lousy teachers. Professors at research-intensive universities don't have very much incentive to put their energy and attention into their students (their tenure and pay is determined mostly by research and publication), so while some of them are good teachers, others are not (and a few, indeed, are proud of, for instance, not knowing their students by name). Further, the training these people get has nothing to do with teaching. It's quite possible to get a professorship at a research institution without ever having taught a class before and without having the slightest interest in teaching.

I think getting people at the top could be a good thing _if_ those people are committed to learning how other people learn, and how to reach those lower students. Professors without much teaching experience are likely to assume that lower level classes are easier to teach than upper level classes, when the opposite is often true. A teacher who assumes that the class is going to be easy, and doesn't put in the time to learning where students have troubles isn't going to be successful. To become a good teacher you have to take seriously the thinking of your students, and the concepts you are teaching, at whatever level that happens to be.

I don't know that recruiting from the top of the class will necessarily improve the quality of teachers you get (the people most committed to teaching are going to pursue that career anyway), but it's not a plan that is automatically doomed. As a teacher of future teachers, I see that the students who want to be teachers and who are at the top of their class tend to be as good or better than their peers with a lower GPA at teacher things as well as the college student things: They are quicker to recognize error patterns in student sample work, the ideas they come up with when they are writing lesson plans are generally more focused on learning goals, and less cluttered with irrelevant and distracting bells and whistles (not to mention they are less likely to teach things that are actually not correct--ugh--that comes up at least a couple of times every year), and they are equally committed to listening to students to figure out what will help them learn. I think both the students who had difficulty learning, and the students who had an easy time learning have strengths that they bring to the table. The only real down side to this proposal that I see is that it may increase the tendency of new top-of-their-class teachers to not value the experience of other (more experienced) teachers--that would be a serious negative.

Pissed Off said...

I have had some excellent Phd teachers but overall they don't relate to the lower levels. Many have felt these classes are beneath them to teach.

Schoolgal said...

I think in this case he is trying to follow Finland's model of only hiring the best ed students. However, they must prove themselves in the real world too.

As for the rest of his plan to reward teachers with excellent evaluations 2 years in a row, I have a problem with that. We all know excellent teachers who do not get along with administration are constantly harassed. I would not trust an administrator to be objective here. Look at how many innocent people were sent to the Rubber Rooms. This is all just union busting, and I have to blame the union too. They have protected lousy teachers. Then they gave away the store in '05.

The mayor is out on a PR mission and now has Murdoch backing him. Mulgrew quite frankly doesn't have much media savvy and today he asked the State to step in on this issue which I am not sure I agree with knowing how the State feels about increased testing.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that whoever hires teachers should look at transcripts and choose to hire C or D students?

Pissed Off said...

No, I am saying being in the top quartile has nothing to do with being a good teacher.

Measly 30th Percentile said...

I'm also frustrated by the undifferentiated nature of this plan. I mean, first of all, I don't necessarily think G.P.A. = intelligence, but even if we do grant that premise--are you telling me that someone who graduated in the 26th percentile from Harvard is less desirable than someone who graduated in the 25th percentile from a far less selective school? If that sounds like an elitist argument, well, then, so is the idea that the top 25% of students by G.P.A. alone represent the hands-down best and the brightest. I'm just saying, if you're going to measure people by statistics and numbers, then you should at least factor in all the variables.

Sweet Girl Tracie said...

Watching Bloomberg get booed today when he made his speech made me smile from ear to ear. : )