Why do school reformers think Superman will be a great teacher, and why are they waiting for him?

How many of you have sat in a college class taught by a professor who knows the content backwards and forwards but can’t explain it in a way that the students understand?

How many of you have sat in a college or graduate class with some of the “brightest” students who couldn’t help anyone else in class? They knew the material but had no idea how to explain it to anyone else.

When I started college many, many years ago I was in pre-engineering. I was not one of the “brightest” in the math and science courses I was taking, but I found that other students were coming to me for help instead of the 4.0 students. That was when I found I had a “gift” for teaching, being able to explain not only how I solved a problem but what they might have done wrong. This was something that many of the more gifted students weren’t able to do, if you didn’t understand how they solved a problem they didn’t now how to show you a different way.

Why do school reformers think that the local pharmacist can teach high school chemistry? What does he/she know about motivating students that don’t want to learn, about classroom management, and about creating interesting lessons that captivate students and make them excited about learning? I didn’t have a minor in chemistry (I ended up majoring in math and physics) but I taught it for many years and did a good enough job that I was a finalist for ND Teacher of the Year. Now I am not “highly qualified” enough to be able to teach chemistry.

Do you really have to have a master’s degree in math to teach elementary math, pre-algebra or algebra? How many of us have taught something that is so new that it isn’t even being taught in college?

I have a motto on my web site that explains my views about Waiting for Superman.

Those who can, Teach
Those who can’t do something much less important

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