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(2,872 posts)
Sun Feb 11, 2024, 12:02 PM Feb 2024

The dumbing down has been working all too well

Daughter's friend works in a dept that accredits teachers at a Uni in TX. We hear horror stories, almost weekly, of how basically illiterate too many of these students are. So many can't follow even basic instructions on scheduling and taking of tests they need to pass to become teachers. More than a few come in to argue that they should be allowed to pass after missing testing appointments or even failing tests. Some bring their moms into the discussion to argue their case! These are not freshmen, but post grads for the most part. My daughter's friend fights the Uni and department heads to make the point that they really need to confront the problems and institute changes. She generally has suggestions they could implement. She is burned out for trying to make sure they actually turn out people who can teach the kids of Texas.

Oh, and the institution where she works is on probation, but they are supposed to tell anyone.

College students don’t know how to read anymore. We’re in denial over how bad it’s gotten.


Defeating the open conspiracy to deprive students of physical access to books will do little to counteract the more diffuse confluence of forces that are depriving students of the skills needed to meaningfully engage with those books in the first place. As a college educator, I am confronted daily with the results of that conspiracy-without-conspirators. I have been teaching in small liberal arts colleges for over 15 years now, and in the past five years, it’s as though someone flipped a switch. For most of my career, I assigned around 30 pages of reading per class meeting as a baseline expectation—sometimes scaling up for purely expository readings or pulling back for more difficult texts. (No human being can read 30 pages of Hegel in one sitting, for example.) Now students are intimidated by anything over 10 pages and seem to walk away from readings of as little as 20 pages with no real understanding. Even smart and motivated students struggle to do more with written texts than extract decontextualized take-aways. Considerable class time is taken up simply establishing what happened in a story or the basic steps of an argument—skills I used to be able to take for granted.

It goes on with more specifics and exposing of problems. My daughter's pal might get whiplash nodding along as she reads this Slate article.
7 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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The dumbing down has been working all too well (Original Post) Attilatheblond Feb 2024 OP
Agree + infinity GreenWave Feb 2024 #1
Republicans have diverted a lot of taxpayer funds to for-profit and nonprofit charter schools. Lonestarblue Feb 2024 #2
Living in Arizona, and having recenty seen/heard a presentation from Save Our Schools... Attilatheblond Feb 2024 #3
I don't have a problem with no college degree. Igel Feb 2024 #6
K/R appalachiablue Feb 2024 #4
TY Attilatheblond Feb 2024 #5
There's a recent pedagogical fight over how to teach reading. Igel Feb 2024 #7


(7,673 posts)
1. Agree + infinity
Sun Feb 11, 2024, 12:09 PM
Feb 2024

An enlightened public is very much unlikely to vote for stupid Koch bro. approved politicians. So their solution is to dumb down the curriculum, the textbooks, the libraries and dare I say it, the faculty. Even open up institutions of pseudo higher education such as a nearby one, where your Master's thesis HAD BETTER include how Jesus Christ got involved with your life and these charlatans get accredited.


(10,728 posts)
2. Republicans have diverted a lot of taxpayer funds to for-profit and nonprofit charter schools.
Sun Feb 11, 2024, 12:31 PM
Feb 2024

They are allowed to hire teachers who have only a high school degree and no teaching experience. Some states are now funding private evangelical schools that are not required to follow state curriculum standards. Home schoolers also are not required to follow standards and are not monitored by local educators or school boards. I’m waiting for the first red state to go full Taliban and set up special schools for girls that teach them nothing but how to get married as teenagers and become baby machines.


(2,872 posts)
3. Living in Arizona, and having recenty seen/heard a presentation from Save Our Schools...
Sun Feb 11, 2024, 12:53 PM
Feb 2024

Oh how I understand your excellent points! Grasped the dangers years ago, but seeing a slide presentation with all the numbers and examples of lack of standards for 'voucher schools', well my friend, it is terrifying how the GOP is funneling public money to private enterprises without any sort of standards or accountability.

More than the Trump, I fear one more generation of educational failure is what will do this nation in for sure.


(35,705 posts)
6. I don't have a problem with no college degree.
Mon Feb 19, 2024, 07:43 PM
Feb 2024

They still need to pass the pedagogy and practices test and content test in TX, at least.

The small engine repair and welding teacher ... What bachelor's degree would those be? Caltech has a program for that? Oregon State? U. Chicago?

And the program leading to graduating having finished your apprenticeship in machining, using milling machines and CNC lathes? Harvard has a machining degree? No--that would be UC Berkeley. (My high school class' valedictorian fell in that category. Not Berkeley. But he graduated as a master machinist. Started with a great pay. Had a student years ago who got a $50k/year job as a welder, supplemented his income with designing and building special projects ... Before he graduated his high. His inferior welding teacher--lacking the BS in Welding Sciences--trained him well. He earned more than me, with my MA.)

See the problem?

Now, you want somebody to teach IB organic chemistry? Yeah, get the degree.

As for hiring teachers with no teaching experience, you're right, that's stupid. It's like hiring an entry level bookkeeper that doesn't have at least 5 years' experience bookkeeping, or a trainee with no experience to build cars. But wait--if you can't hire somebody with no experience, how can anybody get experience to be hired?


(35,705 posts)
7. There's a recent pedagogical fight over how to teach reading.
Mon Feb 19, 2024, 08:01 PM
Feb 2024

Back in '88, '89, the research was clear. Teach phonics. Teach vocabulary. Read to students to expand vocabulary.

30 years later we had the same crap I flopped at in the late '60s--"whole word." Because it was considered less old fashioned and more "progressive." It's a good deal--phonology is constructed by the individual brain, so you need a minimum vocab to figure out how your L1 works, and most "phonemic awareness" programs teach and test phonics and vocabulary but say, "We're [ falsely ] claiming to teach phonemic awareness." Because that's what the useless education schools teach to teach.

Still, you put kids under pressure to learn and bore them with no distractions, they mostly figured it out. I learned how to read between second and third grades when my father helped me read some ridiculous story about an anthropomorphized family of brown bears, I saw there was a whole saga for this family, and he got me book after book. Given my engaged efforts during that one summer vacation I went from low-tracked 2nd grade with a C- average to having my 3rd grade teacher and test results suggest I could skip 4th grade ... Nixed by "au courant with the latest thinking/best practices" counselors who said it would hurt my psycho-social development by depriving me of my (non-existent) friends. Idjits to a cell.

Speaking of cells, now that's a problem. I'm thinking tomorrow every student that I see on a cell phone gets written up after they fail their open-note/closed phone vocabulary pop quiz over what was presented today. (Each word was highlighted, pointed out, identified as testable and to be noted. Near end of class, I went back over each word they needed to know twice. Kids who get pissed if I say, "I'm busy, give me a minute" can flip me the bird for 40 minutes and be pissed off when I say, "Why are you talking over me--be quiet." "I'm not talking." Self-centered "I have the right social views, I'm green!" or self-righteous JROTC assholes. Let the kid who fell asleep sleep ... woke him up as his lunch period ended. "Oops. Get to class." "But I missed lunch?" "Not my problem. Get to class or be marked absent and get a robo-call saying you were truant. Don't fall asleep.&quot

Cellgen. Faraday bags for all. Or make all rooms into Faraday cages.

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