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high school teachers

Cindy Hale chale at SAGE.NRRI.UMN.EDU
Tue Mar 19 10:40:25 EST 1996

Ellen wrote:

>I hope I never see the day when high school science teachers need an 
>advanced degree.  This is crazy!  Why should some do several years past 
>college to teach basic science? Certainly everything a high school 
>student needs to know can be taught by a college graduate who stayed 
>awake in class.  
Unfortunately this is NOT true.  What most students need to learn is not 
how to memorize the organelles of a cell or the stages of mitosis but 
rather, how to think critically and how to formulate and attempt 
to intelligently answer questions, and how all this can be applied with 
practical skills.  Many if not most of the students I see graduating with B.
S. in biology (including myself, way back when) have a great background in 
the current body of knowledge but little to no ability to USE it.  This 
does not reflect on their levels of intelligence but rather on how the 
subject matters were taught and the utter lack of real intellectual 
developement that occurs both at the high school and college levels.  
In fact, I am seriously considering teaching at the junior and/or senior 
high levels to try to do just that.  While it is certainly not impossible 
to teach someone to think critically once they are 19, 20, or older, it 
is much easier when they are 11, 12, 13, etc. We underestimate many kids 
of this age. As a result they are not challenged and get bored and turn 
off to learning.

>To improve the level of high school teaching prehaps we 
>should pay the teachers more to attract good people,  and then monitor the 
>classes and demand that the teachers keep up to date on science.  

>All they really need to do is read the textbook. 
But this assumes they are interested and motivated, which, due to years of 
understimulation, may not be the case.

> I think the major problem arises from teachers who went to college in the 1960's and haven't made the effort 
>to keep up with the times.  Unlike all of the other subjects taught in high 
>school, science is always moving on so you just can't teach the same course 
>for 40 years. 
Maybe this is part of the problem, but attracting and paying good people 
would largely take care of this, I think.

> What a wonderful job teaching science could be for all the college biology majors who don't have the 
>foggiest notion what to do with their degree.
Teaching is NOT something someone should go into if they haven't the 
foggiest notion what they want to do.  A good teacher is one that choses to 
teach.  While teaching skills can be learned to some degree one must have 
the passion to teach to really be exceptional.


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