Posted by: Bill | November 30, 2009

Teacher Education Fail

A task force at the University of Minnesota has determined that future teacher education students there should be taught to “repudiate the American Dream”. Good plan. Joanne Jacobs notes:

I envision prospective teachers who think students of all colors, creeds, classes and sexual orientations are capable of learning, if they’re taught well and do the work. But the time they might have spent learning how to teach reading, writing, math, science or history has been devoted to faddish drivel.

I agree. I especially like this part.

The first step toward “cultural competence,” says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize — and confess — their own bigotry.

This is going to help with teaching kids phonics, decoding, vocabulary and comprehension? Sigh. You would think that what has been happening in the Louisiana teacher education world over the past few years or what Arne Duncan has been saying would have rubbed off on more universities. Not in Minnesota I guess.

The good news is that the always vigilant people of FIRE are on the case. This type of judgment of a student’s disposition has been repudiated in the past whenever it becomes newsworthy. It might be happening quietly in other places though.

I have read about the idea of “cultural competence” many times over the years. I have still never seen a definition that makes any sense. Is it important? Of course. Is it anything more than treating every human being you meet with the respect and dignity they deserve? I doubt it.  No need for us all to admit we are intrinsically bigoted.

If you plan to teach and you don’t enter the classroom with the expectation that every child can learn, you need to find a different profession. You may not succeed, but your expectations are paramount as you strive. Perhaps I am naive and idealistic.

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