Ed Schools and the Perversion of Teaching

Ed school: Just a front for left-wing ideological indoctrination?

That’s the accusation this morning by Bruce Frohnen in the pages of The Imaginative Conservative.

We’ve looked recently at the history of ed-school animus among conservative intellectuals.  The schools that train America’s teachers are often accused of lackluster academics, stultifying political correctness, and shoddy scholarship.

Frohnen warns that ed schools don’t educate much at all.  Instead, they force young people through an intellectually embarrassing and politically damnable course of shopworn leftist clichés.

Ed schools, Frohnen accuses, willfully misunderstand the purposes of true education.  Instead of training new teachers to think of education as a process by which young people master vital knowledge and skills, ed schools train new teachers to think of education first and foremost as a process of “liberation.”

Frohnen cites the case of the University of Minnesota, where teachers-to-be take required fluff courses such as “Creating Identities through Art and Performance,” “Diversity in Children’s Literature,” and “Introduction to Cultural Diversity and the World System.”

A more sympathetic critic might see such courses as important attempts to introduce new teachers to central ideas.  Not Frohnen.  He calls them part of the “trendy but outdated ideological indoctrination so typical of our education schools.”

It is no surprise, with this perspective, that so many conservative academics view teacher education as no education at all.

Frohnen suggests a more positive alternative.  Programs such as Teach For America, Frohnen believes, offer smart, motivated young people a chance to do some good, without jumping through all the left-wing hoops on offer at the nation’s ed schools.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. There is some merit to Frohnen’s claim. While the 3 courses you’ve listed sound like great courses, I had quite a few courses that fit the worst stereotype of left-wing fluff. I remember one course I took that was a Philosophy of Education credit. The syllabus described it as a review of different educational strategies, but it turned out to be a straight-up class on the environment and environmental causes, with the goal of motivating students to become locavores and spread the word about the environment through educational means. Our midterm exam involved bringing a homemade dinner made exclusively from local ingredients.

    I did get some good out of it, given that the environment is a major concern for me. But a conservative could seize on a class like that as evidence of indoctrination.

    As for Teach For America, plenty has been written about that program’s failings, but TFM uses the same educational philosophy that the “left wing” universities do. They just do it in such a way they use unskilled and unprepared students who view TFM as no more than a boost to their resume.

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  2. A lot of TFM students attend programs at ed schools, as well. I don’t really think he’s accurate in distinguishing TFM from other types of teacher training.

    I remember being surprised at the focus on social justice and educating low income and minority populations, but it was hardly the bulk of my program. We got a great grounding in curriculum design, assessment, classroom management, etc. I’m glad for that exposure, though. The majority of teacher candidates at the U.S. are white and come from higher income brackets, especially in the Midwest. The consequence is that you have urban schools with black populations of 90% or more, where the majority of the teachers are white. Those teachers NEED to understand the effects of poverty on children and the systemic underfunding and underdevelopment in urban areas, and they need to spend time observing in those schools and debriefing with professors, because otherwise many of them will go into those schools either prepared for a bunch of thugs who hate learning, or with the desire to swoop in and be rescuers, thinking they can solve all their problems, or both.

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