I read an interesting post the other day, a post articulating the thought that most people think just about anyone with knowledge of a particular subject area can teach. After all, just how hard can it be?
Anyone who has experience as a teacher, who develops expertise arrives at one extremely important and illuminating fact, which is, knowing of a subject and figuring out how best to teach it at different levels of education requires significant application of expertise, commitment of time and energy, and willingness to improve over time.
Knowledge of a subject matter never implies understanding of how best simultaneously to teach it to College Juniors and MSc’s.
Does this then imply teachers have to be brilliant? Perhaps we should turn the question around and ask, “are all employees of the most innovative companies equally brilliant?” Is it ever possible to say, ‘all of the programmers at Apple or Microsoft equally are brilliant’? The answer of course is a resounding No. Within innovative companies, brilliant employees can build on workflows created by ‘more’ brilliant colleagues.
So then, not every teacher needs to be more brilliant. If, however, the educational system does not attempt to retain more brilliant teachers — teachers whose work can inspire other teachers — eventually the brilliance companies seek to privatize via hiring of the best graduates will dissipate out of the educational system.
It does not matter how brilliant a child is naturally. If that child is not nurtured appropriately in context of exposure to knowledge and alternate contexts, the brilliance can die unrealized.
Much as is the case within the private sector, all teachers have to be able to do is stay abreast of new developments within their professions; that is, be able to build around or on new developments that enhance quality of teaching. But if there do not exist any more brilliant teachers creating new innovations, there never will be anything with which other brilliant teachers seek to stay abreast.
It is true there are many ills, implicit or explicit, in educational systems all over the world. While the educational system of the United States remains one of the best in the world, it is not devoid of it’s unique challenges. Without a willingness to overhaul the system via asking and answering of tough questions, however, any problems unique to educational system of the United States likely will not go away anytime soon.
One of the questions the educational system of the United States has yet to grapple with, which I have raised repeatedly is, “Why exactly are students being taught evolution as essentially fact, as opposed to a competing theory for origins of life?” Personally, I do not see how this intellectual dishonesty, which can be proven beyond any doubt whatsoever, can help invigorate American Elementary, Middle, or High School classrooms.
It is time for this question to be hotly debated and resolved.
If Historians and Archaeologists hitherto have yet to discover any factual evidence for evolution, as opposed to the hypothesis that one form of skeleton must have evolved from another, evolution is not fact, it is as yet an unproven hypothesis. That no one as yet has provided factual evidence for credibility of the hypothesis is fact. That evolutionists believe one set of bones evolved into another cannot by itself confer the theory with status of fact or truth. Given there exists a competing rational hypothesis — Creationism — it is important that evolution be taught as hypothesis not fact.
We cannot teach children ‘bad logic’, yet expect them to become brilliant. To teach children that an hypothesis can be elevated to status of fact merely because it is believed is teaching of ‘bad logic’.
In so far as the debate over Carbon Dating is concerned, I have produced narrated slides (see below), which demonstrate that the age of any fossil cannot reliably be determined from age of Carbon in that fossil.
If a jar is made from clay, the age of the clay, which precedes the creation of the jar, cannot tell us the timing of molding of the jar. By extension, the age of carbon, which must precede the creation of any entity made up of carbon, cannot tell us the timing at which the carbon was molded for creation of that entity.
Turns out most of the criticisms of Carbon Dating as being unreliable are non-scientific. Based on application of scientific principles, two people can live contemporaneously in the same area, and if one feeds only on fish, and the other only on beef, their carbon readings automatically would differ. Based on carbon readings it would appear the two persons lived during different time periods when in reality, the amount of carbon differs because fish and cows differ significantly with respect to carbon composition (see for example, Arneborg et al. 1999).
By extension, in presence of significant differences in diet, carbon readings of two persons who lived contemporaneously can differ significantly. In presence of this conundrum, the age of man cannot reliably be determined from age of carbon in fossils of man.
In light of stated scientific principle, differences in ages of two fossils does not automatically imply they lived during different periods of time. Even more importantly, given carbon always has been part of the universe, carbon in fossils can be millions of years old, yet man’s time on earth may be no more than about 6,000 years.
Man was made from matter that already existed within the universe. The age of carbon in man can be as old as the age of the universe itself.
Teaching, much like any other profession requires expertise. Bad policies, curriculums, and low pay make things more difficult for willing brilliant, or more brilliant teachers. There is room for improvements to policies, curriculums, and conditions of service that obtain in context of American education. The sooner the brainstorming for arriving at improvements commences, the sooner the environment for demonstration of brilliance and more brilliance can be improved.
As to parents, it really cannot be a better equilibrium to assume anyone can teach a child. If that assumption really is true, what exactly does it imply about children’s outcomes?
Sometimes society gets caught up in demagoguery of speech. But then left unchecked over time, demagoguery of speech can transform into subconscious attitudes. It is time for parents to realize that the demagoguery of speech implicit in ‘anyone can do it’ is evolving into reality for their children not because teachers are not qualified, but because attitude implied — lack of normative value in education, as independent from value for securing of a job — is becoming part of the fabric of society. When a child values the certificate, yet considers the teacher irrelevant for quality of the certificate, how exactly do we expect the quality of education to improve over time?
It is time for the demagoguery implicit in ‘anyone can do it’ to come to an end. This is the only path to a better equilibrium for educational systems of the United States of America.