To be a teacher, do you need to know how to write?

Sad to say it, but if I see a poorly written opinion piece in the Albuquerque Journal, I can almost assume it is written by a teacher. It makes me wonder who is becoming a teacher in this state and whether they are being taught basic writing skills. Check out this article from a 36 year veteran from Las Cruces. For the record, I don’t disagree with the author’s point (I think) that you can’t operate socialized government schools via an artificially-imposed “business” model.

For example, what exactly does this sentence mean? “There is such a plethora of teaching programs and ideas out there as a great and beckoning alternative!” Or this one: “You cannot clone teachers whose creativity, ingenuity and freedom to experiment should reign and abound in the ambience of school and classroom.”

He finishes with a flourish:

“With our state’s particular and mostly similar demographics teachers could share their own creative programs and new ideas that work.
If the people of New Mexico and Susana Martinez are happy with this current situation, so be it. Sadly, then, we all are going to be stakeholders for the tent of educational despair and failure for a long, long time!”

So, in nearly 800 words, we’ve learned that New Mexico is attempting to operate the schools on some kind of “business model,” that this is supposedly unpopular with teachers and stifles their creativity, and that this guy who taught for 36 years can’t write his way out of a paper bag. Read the whole thing yourself and tell me if I’m wrong! I guess the good news is that he’s retired now and won’t be able to inflict his fuzzy thinking and poor writing on anymore students, but that is cold comfort when New Mexico is barely graduating 50% of its students from high school.

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6 Replies to “To be a teacher, do you need to know how to write?”

  1. This is what you get when Teacher’s Unions dictate the standards for teaching. Here in New Mexico we have such a wealth of intellectual capital at our National Laboratories and in technological businesses that we should be able to recruit from that base and have the best educational system in the Nation. Unfortunately, the Teachers’ Unions have elected barriers to entry that prevent the best and brightest from entering the profession.
    The people that DO enter education these days are, unfortunately, mostly like the author of that piece being unable to teach because they do not know. His personal opposition to the “model” that he so deplores is one of the bases of it’s failure to achieve results. Sadly, tenure prevents the removal of the insubordinate, the inadequate, and those who undermine the successful implementation of new ideas.
    People are naturally resistant to change, and so the failure of the “model” can be attributed as much to poor leadership as to resistance. In the real world of business, those who cannot lead are replaced, and those who actively undermine attempts at improvement soon find themselves in new careers. If what the author says is true, many of them wind up teaching.

  2. What did you expect? For as long as they have existed, “schools” of education have been notorious havens for the academically incompetent. Regurgitating a disorganized collection of buzz words is about all most graduates of such degree mills can manage, especially after earning an advanced degree.

    Too bad we have to support these trash heaps of intellectual mediocrity at our state universities. Wait, maybe another cost cutting idea for Gov. Martinez has surfaced!

    But what do I know, I’m just an engineer….

  3. David is spot-on in my humble opinion, but what do I know, I’m just an engineer turned dentist.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg that is sinking our economy. Government schools have dumbed down generations of Americans. Pathetic.

    1. I suppose my opinion is more humble than those before. I am a retired engineer teaching high school chemistry and mathematics. I work with some great teachers in my little corner of New Mexico. Very few of them are union members. Say what you will about bad teachers. I believe the author of the subject article may be one.

      From an analytical engineer’s mind I see a glaring fault in almost every discussion about education. No one mentions the mass of unmotivated students! My greatest challenge every day is to get the attention of students that seem perfectly content to live in a state of total ignorance. Ted, asking them to read the chapter and prepare for class is like pulling teeth… with no anesthesia. Student work ethic for far too many is nonexistent. Anyone want to talk about the responsibilities of the parents?

      1. Jon,
        I certainly owe you, and probably many other teachers, an apology. I fell into the fatal error of painting with the broad brush, something that I need to check myself on. I certainly understand your point of view.
        Parental involvement is definitely a major factor in driving kids toward success in education. If education is not valued in the family environment, the kid certainly is not going to be as engaged as they need to be and schools become nothing more than taxpayer funded babysitters. There are a plethora of other issues as well.
        I’m sure you’ve seen the the incentives that exist for classifying students as “gifted” or “special needs” that financially reward schools for classifying kids into these categories. This practice unfairly stretches some kids beyond their talents, unfairly pushes others “down” into remedial efforts they really don’t require and demotivates them, and ultimately, steals the resources from the majority of the average kids in the middle. That’s just one more of the problems.
        I wish we could find a way to do a Pareto chart of which problems to attack first, though I’m certain lack of parental involvement would wind up being one of the, if not THE biggest problems, and the most difficult to solve.

  4. Well, the quoted teacher did use several exciting and interesting words ! He/she was just unfamiliar with putting them together properly to convey a meaning in the English language.

    Sadly, Jon W. is right about the parents. Bringing back corporal punishment might be an idea, but these kids of today would probably return and shoot the one who administered the punishment. Sad times.

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