Walter E. Williams: Schools of education are to blame for poor student performance

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Jan. 26, 2012 10:48 a.m.

    If we blame teachers for the current state of education, we should blame economists for the current state of the economy (borrowed previous entry). Very funny. In reality, education is occurring in a social context that makes it a gauntlet to act like a serious student. We are getting what we are rewarding, and the picture is not pretty.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 26, 2012 8:13 a.m.

    Williams goes further and further off into uber Right-field la-la land.

    The best teacher I ever had was Mr. Sanders - 8th adn 9th grade chemistry.

    He taught us not only the periodic table, how to balance an equation, and how to safely blow things up in a labratory - but how to THINK!

    He was a lousy speller, couldn't sing with a toot, and thought sports were a complete waste of time and money --- but he could TEACH.

    PLUS --
    Parents set expectations. Low expectations from their children and merely having "Fun" in school.

    I found this to be true when we moved to Seattle.
    We lived into a tiny condo on Mercer Island -
    Mercer Island had 1 High School, 1 Jr. High school and 3 Elementary Schools for the whole district.

    They had the Highest Test scores in the State, and spent less per student than almost any other.

    The School District said it best -- The PARENTS (mostly higher educated themselves -- being Doctors, Lawyers, & Engineers) set the acedemic expectations, and paid for the best TEACHERS they could get.

    The small, 4 room District Office and staff of less than 20 kept unnecessary expenses (overhead) down.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 11:30 p.m.

    "Then they need to make teaching a more inviting and supporting career"

    A great increase in teacher salary and benefits? That is unheard of in this state.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 5:12 p.m.

    This article is not condemning teachers. It's condemning the colleges of education, who are so far off of reality that it is criminal.

    As a teacher of 30 years, this article is right on the money. The colleges actually teach teachers NOT to teach. They are purists in a philosophy called constructivism. The largest, longest study ever done on how students learn, Project Follow-Through, proved this philosophy to be detrimental and that direct instruction (the opposite of constructivism) was really what worked best.

    Our students and teachers would be better if colleges of education, as they are NOW, were abolished. Of course if they would teach correct principles, it would make better teachers, but they are not doing that now.

    THAT is where legislators should direct their punishing fingers instead of at public school teachers. Then they need to make teaching a more inviting and supporting career, so we don't lose half of our teachers in the first five years. Of course part of that problem is that colleges teach incorrect principles, and wonder why teachers don't succeed when they get to the classroom!

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 12:46 p.m.

    As a retired teacher, I agree to a degree. Candidates for the teaching profession need a much stronger foundation in subject matter. The "methods" classes I took back in the 1960's were mostly wasted time and could have been consolidated into only one or two shorter courses.

    I never learned anything about the psychology of reading or how to best teach a child to read or to remediate a reading problem. But I sure knew how to use a teacher's manual! Almost all I learned about teaching came not from college, but from experience in the classroom and from other teachers. Yet I found myself wishing I had learned much more about the subjects I was expected to teach.

    I hope things have changed. But when colleges of education are allowed to set the standards for obtaining a teacher certificate, old powerful people will try to hang on as long as they can.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 25, 2012 10:52 a.m.

    Williams is dead wrong about this. The best teacher I ever had couldn't spell his way out of a paper bag, but he wasn't in the business of teaching me to spell. He taught me to think about what I was reading, he challenged my ideas, he taught me sensitivity to other human beings. There are many facets to teacher success--content knowledge being one of them.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 10:37 a.m.

    To me, it feels increasingly like Dr. Williams and his hyper-conservative ilk won't be happy until we re-enter the Dark Ages.

  • Sikeli Herriman, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 9:35 a.m.

    I would have agreed with Dr. Williams until I became a teacher. Leaving the business world, I was convinced I could teach well enough without taking additional classes. Dr. Williams pulls out a few bad examples and then applies them to the entire college of education. I found a different story during my experience. My college classes taught me better classroom management skills, curriculum design, lesson planning, statistical analysis, and strategies to better help non-English speakers and students with special needs (e.g. handicapped students). I was able to get feedback and assistance as I built my new career. I made connections with others in the industry that help me to this day. I could go on and on. I learned how to be better and I will be eternally grateful for those things.

    Dr. Williams should attend some of these colleges and see what really happens before he thinks to tear them down. At least he should propose an alternative to them instead of leaving us without any new teachers.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 9:17 a.m.

    I knew a teacher who said she wondered why it was that it got warmer during the day after the sun came up and got colder after sunset. Was she typical? I hope not.

    False educational theories are to blame for a lot of poor teaching results too. I especially abhor the "self image" philosophy that believes if a child is constantly told he is "smart" he will do well academically. My experience is generally the exact opposite.

    I do not think teachers are especially "stupid" but I do know there is collectively a low level of understanding of basic English etc in so many college students of all disciplines that remedial courses are often necessary. These courses can improve performance but their success seems to be limited. Without the ability to express oneself in good English or a sufficient vocabulary or enough logic to understand erudition any student or teacher is limited.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 6:32 a.m.

    Perhaps there is some merit in what Walt says here, but I also have to ask if Schools of Economics, one in which he purportedly sits, should also be blamed for the state of the economy.

  • Timj South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 25, 2012 5:36 a.m.

    It's always amusing that the same people who say teachers are stupid also refuse to pay teachers more money. If you're worried about the intelligence of teachers, make the teaching field into something more intelligent people want to be a part of, and increase starting wages in the field. Problem solved.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 25, 2012 5:23 a.m.

    Dr. Williams never fails to fail.

    I have known hundreds of teachers via my education and that of my children.

    As in most fields of endeavor, most were competent, a few were not, and some were hyper-competent and could have been stars in nearly any career.

    Dr. Williams uses some out of context, cherry-picked quotes. He should know better. Some of the quotes are foolish but not all.

    "Content knowledge is not seen to be as important as possessing teaching skills and knowledge about the students being taught."

    In LDS teacher training I have often heard the quote "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". Is that better?

    That "Students can no longer be viewed as cognitive living rooms into which the furniture of knowledge is moved in and arranged by teachers, and teachers cannot invariably act as subject-matter experts."

    When I have taught professional or church classes, I am there not to simply infuse knowledge but to help students learn to learn.

    In church, we teach folks to study, ponder, and pray on their own. To know how to learn on their own.

    Not really so different.