Ms. Smlph needed only two courses, “Technologies in Education” and “Reading in the Content Area,” to complete a full credential. Neither instructor was competent, but it was sure was easy. In the technology class:
Weekly quizzes came from the textbook’s website, and my classmates and I quickly figured out that, by using the browser’s back button, one could get answers for and resubmit the quizzes endlessly without losing points.
The reading instructor was a kindergarten teacher who had never taught the course before. The class average on weekly assignments was 100 percent. Ms. Smlph got 100 percent on the open-book midterm, despite leaving the book at home.
Going into the final, I still had 100% in the class. When I heard that, like the midterm, this exam would be open-book, I was confident that I could do fairly well. When the instructor told us it would consist of 25 multiple choice questions (this was the FINAL, people!), I became even more sure of myself. Then…I saw the test. Many of the questions contained obvious typos. Some of the questions had vaguely tricky answers, like this one:
Why should teachers allow students time to think?
a. Being given more time makes students think.
b. being given more time enables students to answer
c. It is the polite thing to do.
d. It ensures quick answers.
I was a little torn between a and b. Eventually, I chose b because nothing, not wait-time, not a miracle can MAKE anyone do anything. Tricky questions like these aren’t the type of trick questions that I can respect. Rather, they’re the type that requires the test-taker to attempt to guess what the test-writer might have been thinking. Of course, I will never understand what my instructor was thinking with this next question:
What educational practices contribute to the students diversity in secondary classrooms?
a.More students entering school from poverty-level homes
d. All of the above
Since when are immigration, cultural change, and poverty EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES?????
She got only 80 percent on the final but passed the course.
Update: This New York Times story praises Emporia State’s rigorous teacher education program, which emphasizes practical knowledge teachers need in the classroom, as opposed to the theoretical approach at many teacher ed programs. What will most advance social justice: Education schools that teach teachers to teach kids to read, write and do math or ed schools that teach social justice?
Mentor Matters advocates intensive internships that let trainee teachers work with master teachers as instructional aides. George Mason University runs such a program.