After yesterday’s post, I received several good pieces of feedback. One point stated that judging teachers by degree was not much different than judging students by standardized test. On the surface this sounds like a valid comparison. However, a degree is conferred after several years of study of a prescribed curriculum, involving many different classes, and would be more like a high school diploma. Getting a college degree simply opens the door to becoming a teacher. It has nothing to do with whether one will be a “good” teacher, it simply says one has completed the requirements to enter the profession.
Another comment said that just because a teacher has a higher degree they are not necessarily a “better” teacher, and I agree. However, an advanced degree shows the desire to improve oneself in a structured manner which will provide more and better tools for teachers to transfer to the classroom. Whether or not the transfer is made is up to the teacher.
I failed to mention that once a teacher is comfortable with what they teach subject-wise, good teachers began to work on their pedagogy, the craft of teaching. Motivation, compassion, empowerment, self-actualization, these are some of the ways master teachers separate themselves from their peers. The problem for those who want quantification is how to measure this pedagogy. A score on a student’s high stakes test is a poor substitute for evaluating teachers.
My purpose for writing “Credentials and Teaching” was to point out the attack by conservative elements on teachers for needing to have an education degree in order to teach, and the extension of the attack to teachers being paid more for having advanced degrees. I feel the motivation behind these attacks is to discredit public education, discredit teachers (and their unions), and promote alternative organizations such as Teach For America. There is money to be made by privatizing education.
Finally, as to the importance of college degrees, no one has challenged my question, “would it matter if your child in college was taught by inexperienced professors who had nothing more than a bachelor’s degree?