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Reflections on Twitter Feeds: Education Programs Score Mediocre

I would encourage you to read this article from the Washington Post:, "University programs that train U.S. teachers get mediocre marks in first-ever ratings."

There are several issues here, but I will try to limit my commentary for the sake of your time. Consider, for example, this quote from the former president of Teachers College at Columbia University: "We can’t decide whether it’s a craft or a profession." Let's tease this quote apart.

First, even my 11th grade daughter recognizes this "either/or" fallacy. Things in the world do not break down simply to either this or that choice. The world is far more nuanced than what this fallacy suggests.

Second, implicit in the quote is the over-dependence of high education on the traditions of Western thought. This quote reflects the Aristotelian edict: something cannot be A and "Not A" at the same time. This edict is just plain wrong.  Certainly this thought was useful in many of the constructs since Aristotle; however, the reality is that something CAN BE "A and not A" at the same time. Simply look at something such as light. Light behaves like particles and it behaves like waves: both at the same time.

Third, note that the quote begins with "we." This simple word, "we," smacks of many problems in high ed today. Is this the "royal" we? Even worse, is this pronoun the collective "we" (grammatically correct) of the top administration of colleges and university who have not been in a classroom in years? Or is this the "we" vs. "them": administration vs. faculty? educationally elite vs. new students? the "haves" vs. the "have-nots"?

Lastly, consider the leadership model--"We cannot decide. . . " This seeming top/down approach is, I believe, one of the fundamental problems in higher education today. We have presidents and deans and chief academic officers whose single purpose is to perpetuate the institution that has given them employment and a huge salary. 

There are a myriad of issues here:

  • Anecdotes about teacher preparation
  • Notions of what is a "profession"
  • Gender inequality
  • Ethnic issues
  • Poverty issues
  • School funding

With this rich material, I may come back to this article again, but I wanted to start a conversation and invite your responses.

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