Degragation of Teachers

Knowledge You Won’t Find In College

 During Prohibition I had a couple of uncles having a thirst for alcohol. Today they would be called alcoholics but that name hadn’t been discovered yet so they were referred to as drunks. Prohibition created many new drinkers as since Eve picked the apple off the forbidden Tree of Knowledge mankind has had a lust for forbidden fruit.

 My reason for this confessional is they were both hard workers and were happy drunks and loved to sing while intoxicated. My uncle Oskar sang a song inspiring the writing of the following blog. The title was “There’s an awful lot of knowledge you’ll never learn in college.”

 Parents today are under the illusion all children, especially their own, are and must attend college. In reality only a certain type of student benefit from cognitive learning. Many students come to college not only poorly prepared by prior schooling for highly demanding academic tasks that ideally lie in front of them, but — more troubling still — they enter college with attitudes, norms, values, and behaviors that are often at odds with academic commitment.”

 We are paying big money to educate our youth but failing as students are not dedicating enough time to studying. Students are hitting the books less and partying more. Easier courses and easier majors have become more and more popular. Perhaps more now than ever, the point of the college experience is to have a good time and walk away with a valuable credential after putting in the least effort possible.

 A book based on a study, led by Professor Arum, that followed more than 2,300 students at a broad range of schools from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009. The study (available at showed that in their first two years of college, 45 percent of the students made no significant improvement in skills related to critical thinking, complex reasoning and communication. After the full four years, 36 percent still had not substantially improved those skills. Those not acquiring these skills receive the same diploma as those acquiring them.

 My granddaughter, Angela Clague, reinforces this in her blog Ivy League Education. Her bother Jason, a senior at NYU, will confirm this observation.

Most of what I have said is taken from other writers and am not in total agreement with their hypothesis. Many students would fare better if they took some trade where higher academic learning wasn’t as important. We have been inundated with the idea that anyone can be the leader of the band. In reality we need members of the band and artisans to make the instruments. These members of society can be as important and happy in life as the leaders.

 I had more formal education then needed and was content to be a member of the middle class. Some children need to lower their expectations in life and center their goals in careers they will enjoy in their long subsequent adult life, rather than accumulating material stuff. These thoughts will be considered heresy by modern standards, but is reality in my mind.

I had planned to voice my opinion again on all the critics of our educational system, but was carried away by the intelligence of my Uncle Oskar’s song…

Time magazine has an article on the failure of our schools by Fareed Zakaria, a man whose opinion I hold in high esteem on foreign policy and politics. I now consider him one of the politicians, pundits, parents and others looking for scapegoats for some underachieving students. Parents have a greater influence in destroying the children’s attitude towards teachers and school, but the media does their share.

The Nordic countries and South Korea teachers are paid well and treated like professionals. These countries have fewer cultures and languages to deal with in contrast to areas like southern California, not only with areas like Watts, but some classrooms have students from 3 to 4 diverse cultures and languages. I recall visiting a classroom with a number of children not involved in the classroom activities so asked the teacher the reason. They don’t understand English was her reply.

The community rejected bilingual education as thought all Americans should be fluent in the English language. The poor children sitting in this classroom weren’t responsible for this.       

I could continue with my defense of our education systems, but have gone beyond the interest span of most readers and probably covered all this before so will close with this observation:

Last night a TV program focused on a wedding couple listening to the minister’s vows. The bride had a large veil reaching to her shoulders.  When the camera panned in on the veil the bride was busy texting someone. Relate this to one problem teachers may have in educating our youth.





7 responses to “Degragation of Teachers

  1. Vicki Sue McKinnis

    You certainly did cover alot of areas of the educational topic. Please allow one comment with reference to what you brought up concerning college education. I have watched my Mom, who never attended college, educate herself over the years, through continual independent study. I also have a daughter with an insatiable curiosity, who continually educates herself by following her interests. The cost of college education has put a tremendous burden on many graduates who now find themselves facing a sparse job market. I went through about 4 years of college, coming out with an Associates degree, and don’t feel that I learned anything that I couldn’t have gathered on my own. The point of all of this? Well, unless a college degree is training us for a specific job, which is available and will cover the costs of our education, I agree with you that perhaps it would be better to invest our energies and financial resources elsewhere.

  2. Sali Cosford Parker

    My husband and I are long-time season ticket holders to the Philadelphia Speakers Series. We figure that listening to the likes of Madeline Albright, David McCullough and Charles Krauthammer keeps our brains oiled over the long winter. Now and then characters like Dave Barry and Garrison Kellor take the podium and we get to spend the evening laughing – always a welcome activity.

    Last night, laughter was definitely not on the agenda. After weaving through protesters handing out leaflets against the evening’s speaker, we got to our seats just as Michelle Rhee took the stage. Though not a particularly dynamic speaker, two messages came across loud and clear:

    1- the American public education system is broken and it will take creativity and courage to put it to rights
    2 – teachers – effective teachers – deserve our wholehearted respect and support

    I couldn’t argue with either message. Nor can I disagree with Rhee’s assessment that America is more interested in making children feel good about themselves than teaching them to work hard, to set and achieve worthy goals. We reward children for just showing up, for heaven’s sake!

    My step-daughter attended 12 years of public school in one of the highest rated school districts in Eastern Pennsylvania. When she decided to live with my husband and me, we had to move into the district because her father and his ex insisted she continue to attend school there. Consistently receiving A’s on compositions throughout high school, she was convinced she was one bang-up writer. I read those comps – they were barely C work when she started high school and the was minimal improvement by the time she graduated. Her study skills were non-existent, and her definition of “critical thinking” was what she put up with from her wicked step-mother. So, she and her 253 classmates spent twelve years of being rewarded for mediocrity. What sort of citizens do you suppose they are today? Committed to a meaningful purpose? Leadership material? Dedicated teachers? Scientists? Mathematicians? Craftspeople? Explorers? Artists? Now there’s humor!

    How did this happen to my daughter and millions of other American children? Our system is broken. Our system protects teachers that have no business teaching and ties the hands of teachers who want to make a difference. Our system does not recognize and cultivate each child’s unique strengths. Our system thrives on numbers that reflect nothing of what a child needs to grow strong and productive. Our system is broken, and as a result, for the first time in American history, the generation currently in school will grow up less educated than their parents.

    Did you get that?

    For the first time in American history, the generation currently in school will grow up less educated than their parents.

  3. Sally,–You may be right with your granddaughter but My grandchildren attended the public schools in a number of different cities and am satisfied with their education. Two attend Ivy League schools and are at the top of their classes. The one at NYU is a senior majoring in math and logic and finds his only real competition are Asian children. His sister is an excellent writer and doing well. My oldest teaches at Rice University and well thought of. Two others attend college in Santa Cruz and doing well. These aren’t the students discussed in our evaluations of public schools.

    I have done a lot of research on Michelle Rhee, who taught 3rd grade for a couple of years and found cheating and exaggerations on her test scores.

    There are teachers with different teaching competencies, but there are enough competent teachers for those attending school with a positive attitude.

    I too hope these children do a better job of running the country than their parents. Thanks for the comment and will put it on my blog if you wish.

    I enjoyed reading about your trip and wish I was able to do the same.

  4. Interesting thoughts on education. I tutored for seven years to mainly upper middle class families who could afford my fees. It made me realize how different each child is and how difficult it was for many of them to grasp and keep simple concepts. I wonder how long it will take the parents to realize that perhaps they are not academics. Will they push and pay for all the extras to get and keep them in college, only to find out that they have had to cheat their way through. I felt sorry for many of my students and hope they have found their niche, even if it’s under the hood of a car. We all know we need mechanics.

  5. Vicki Sue McKinnis

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the article and comments. One thing that struck me, though, Dad, is that when you talk of Luanne’s children as doing well in school, we must remember that Luanne took it upon herself to tutor her children each year. Luanne took full responsibility for her children’s education rather than leaving it up to the schools.

  6. Vicki Sue McKinnis

    I don’t know if this link will transfer, but it is something that addresses the conversations here…..

    You can see it by googling: College Conspiracy-You Tube

  7. Ive also been thinking the identical thing myself lately. Grateful to see another person on the same wavelength! Nice article.

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