Friday, July 13, 2012

Up to half of British secondary school teachers lack degrees in their specialist subjects

I actually agree with the views expressed below but cannot quite leave the subject without noting that I myself did for two years successfully teach Geography to final-year High school students although my highest qualification in that subject was a junior school pass!  But I was and am rather enthusiastic about geography so maybe that was the important factor.  My students got good results

Up to half of secondary teachers lack degrees in their specialist subjects, according to figures released yesterday.

Across most of the curriculum, the number of teachers with a relevant post A-level qualification has declined over the past year, falling especially sharply in languages and physics.

More than 50 per cent of teachers in religious education, Spanish and drama did not study the subjects at university or teaching college.  In physics, geography and German, a third have no qualification higher than an A-level.  In maths, chemistry, history and French, the figure is a quarter while in English and PE it is a fifth.

Professor John Howson, managing director of research firm, called for a tightening of the rules to restrict schools' use of non-specialist teachers.  'I don't like parents being hoodwinked into believing their children's teachers are experts in their subjects,' he said.

Figures from the Department for Education show that 55.3 per cent of teachers of religious education - a statutory subject - are not specialists.  Meanwhile 33.7 per cent are attempting to teach physics, and 27.1 per cent maths, with no qualification in the subjects beyond A-level.

Schools tend to put non-specialist staff in front of middle or lower ability children, even though experts say that all pupils require specialist teaching.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said that schools were still struggling to recruit good staff to teach physics, maths and foreign languages.  'Some of the people without degrees teaching these subjects may have been drawn in because of these shortages,' Prof Smithers said.  He said it was 'essential' that teachers had expertise in their subject.

Pupils taught by staff that lack sufficient knowledge risked being turned off, he suggested.  'The absolute essential thing is that a teacher has a good understanding of the subject at the level they are teaching it,' he said.  'Our best indicator of that is holding a degree or post-A-level qualification.'

Prof Smithers added: 'If you have a biologist teaching physics, even at age 11, it may well be that their enthusiasm for physics isn't there, and the child isn't excited by it and moves in another direction.  'It's the understanding and enthusiasm that's important.'

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: 'If we want an education system that ranks with the best in the world, we have to attract outstanding people into the profession, and give them excellent training - at the start of - and throughout - their careers.

'The government is overhauling teacher training and offering better financial bursaries to top science, maths and languages graduates to encourage them to become teachers,' she said.


Dem Congressman: American Schools Should Run More Like Muslim Madrassas

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) recently told a Muslim audience that American schools should operate more like Islamic “madrasas,” the Arabic word for schools. He was addressing the Islamic Circle of North America conference in Hartford, Connecticut in May.

    “America will never tap into educational innovation and ingenuity without looking at the model that we have in our madrassas, in our schools where innovation is encouraged, where the foundation is the Koran. And that model that we are pushing in some of our schools meets the multiple needs of students.”

It is certainly wise to call for greater innovation in our public schools. That is vitally necessary. We have an educational system that is reticent to change. The establishment model provides us with a human being in front of 30 students in neatly formed rows of desks. It provides an assembly-line system of students moving from classroom to classroom to receive 50 minutes of instruction about a particular subject.

It prefers the technology of 1980 – testing with Scanton bubble sheets – over today’s. It is the politicians who have protected such a system because they kowtow to political forces that would be wiped away by “innovation.”

But beyond innovation, Carson’s call for a madrasa-like government school system is a disturbing one. Madrasas are commonly seen as anti-Western indoctrination centers which have kept women barred from learning. They’re known for radicalizing young children against the West and the state of Israel. Biased textbooks are routinely criticized for their overt and gross slander, particularly of those of the Jewish faith.

Carson’s idea is a radical departure from the status quo and would not be a step in the right direction. America is, and always will be, a land of religious tolerance, where all people are free to observe their particular beliefs. But we are society built on Judeo/Christian ethics, and they remain the moral building blocks of our educational system, in private as well as public schools.

Beyond that, Americans already haggle over the “separation of church and state.” Leftists are vigilant in their effort to prevent the observance of Christianity on school property. How would people in Carson’s own Democratic Party react to a publicly-financed school “where the foundation is the Koran?” If the Bible is not welcome in American schools, we’d be willing to bet the Muslim holy book would be given a pretty chilly reception.

Muslim schools are free to operate as Muslim schools. But the message they too frequently offer their students is not one many would care to have in our taxpayer-funded classrooms.

Thanks but no thanks, Rep. Carson


Is Socratic Method DOA at Columbia University?

A fine line exists for university educators between teaching and preaching. Young student minds may not discern the difference, accepting the latter as "gospel" rather than subjecting it to Socratic analysis to arrive at a reasoned conclusion. The Socratic Method invokes an individual's common sense to assess whether a viewpoint is reasonable to avoid irresponsibly drawing outrageous conclusions.

At Columbia University, there has been some tilling of the soil in the past to cultivate a friendly environment in which erroneous, and outrageous, positions on Iran's human rights abuses have been voiced by that country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It should come as no surprise then this has led one of Columbia's international relations professors to plant the seed of an idea Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations need not be feared.

His rationale, like Ahmadinejad's before him, escapes Socratic analysis.

Columbia University provided a forum for Ahmadinejad to speak to students when the Iranian leader visited New York to address the United Nations in 2007. There should have been no doubt among faculty and students present Ahmadinejad was a 21st century Adolf Hitler "wannabe."

His continued hatred of Jews blinds him to life's realities. He disavows the Holocaust occurred while threatening to complete what Hitler started by wiping Israel off the face of the Earth.

Ahmadinejad seems to be an equal opportunity denier. He denies Islam's intolerance and, therefore, that apostates have been put to death. He denies the existence of homosexuals in Iran and, therefore, that Iranians have been executed for being gay.

Interestingly, while an anti-gay leader was provided a forum at Columbia from which to preach his Islamic supremacist views, the university has denied the U.S. military a voice on campus for over four decades due to its anti-gay recruitment policy.

Of interest, too, is that while students remained respectful of Ahmadinejad's views, allowing him to complete his outrageous remarks, they failed to extend the same courtesy to a veteran attempting to share his views about Ahmadinejad and those like him.

Last year, a town hall meeting was held to discuss whether ROTC should be allowed to return to the campus due to the military's new policy accepting gays into the service. One student -- a veteran wounded 11 times in Iraq during a single firefight in 2008, requiring a 2-year recovery -- tried explaining ROTC's need on campus as evil men in the world, such as Ahmadinejad, seek to do us harm. He was jeered.

For Columbia University students, tolerance extended to evil leaders but not those endeavoring to warn us about them.

From this university environment now comes faculty member Kenneth Waltz, published in the current issue of "Foreign Affairs" suggesting we should fear nothing by Ahmadinejad having the bomb. In an article entitled "Iran Should Get the Bomb," he astonishingly surmises Iran's possession of such a weapon "would probably be the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East."

Recognizing the U.S. claim a nuclear-armed Iran is "unacceptable," Waltz suggests such language is historically typical from major powers, as others attempt to join the nuclear club, but -- in the end -- they accept such membership.

He argues, "by reducing imbalances in military power, new nuclear states generally produce more regional and international stability, not less."

He justifies Iran's effort as one to counter nuclear-armed Israel as "power, after all, begs to be balanced" -- the crisis with Iran will end "only when a balance of military power is restored."

He suggests Iran wouldn't use such nukes as it "would invite massive retaliation and risk destroying everything the Iranian regime holds dear."

A major flaw in Waltz's argument is his focus on historical deterrence -- claiming as states joined the nuclear arms club, they recognized a duty to conduct themselves responsibly. He points out that is why no two nuclear armed nations have ever gone to war with each other.

Ironically, until December 2008, he could have said the same about no two democratic states ever having fought each other in a conventional war. However, that no longer remains true as almost three years after democratic parliamentary elections swept Hamas into power in Gaza, it was at war with democratically elected Israel. It took a "Muslim democracy" to break that streak.

Waltz badly wants us to believe, just like the ominous responsibility of possessing such weapons caused those who became nuclear club members to behave responsibly by not using them, so, too, will Iran. He argues such an awesome responsibility reduces a nation's bellicose nature.

But Waltz irresponsibly reaches this outrageous conclusion, failing to consider the personality of the man with his hand on Iran's nuclear trigger.

There is no acknowledgement Ahmadinejad believes he is ordained to play a role in the return of Islam's 12th Imam -- who disappeared centuries ago, ascending into a state of occultation, destined to return to Earth in the future to restore Islam to greatness.

There is no acknowledgement Ahmadinejad is part of a cult -- so feared decades ago Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini outlawed it -- believing the return only occurs in the wake of world chaos triggered by man.

Ahmadinejad believes he is that man, claiming he was visited by the 12th Imam and that his future role was revealed by the aura engulfing (and only visible to) him as he spoke at the United Nation.

Waltz makes no acknowledgement an Iranian nuclear trigger would be manned by a madman!

If Waltz were present at Ahmadinejad's 2007 speech at Columbia, he failed to hear what he said. The Iranian leader began with a prayer for the 12th Imam's return and victory. Had Waltz explored what this means for non-Muslims, he would know it means they must convert to Islam -- or die.

Ahmadinejad's prayer, therefore, was one wishing death to non-believers -- a fate he intends to trigger with a nuclear weapon.

For Columbia University, it appears the Socratic Method is DOA.



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