Our society becomes supremely credentialed. I am a passionate proponent of education, but as the inflation of degrees continues, we are forced into massive debt simply to justify our worthiness to do anything. And as we earn these degrees, we move further and further away from the true nature of our subject material.
In eras past, once you graduated from the schoolhouse you had pretty much proven your ability to teach there. Now, you must have multiple pieces of paper, for example, a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s, as well as certification of some type, to be allowed to set foot in the classroom. Someone like me, with proven competence in my subject matter, many years experience tutoring, homeschooling, interning as well as teaching at a major university, a B.A. summa cum laude with honors, a natural teaching ability, plus a lifetime spent reading, studying, and reflecting on the nature and process of education… eh, just doesn’t cut it. Not enough pieces of paper!!!
Which I will get, eventually, I am highly skilled at submitting myself to the established protocols and jumping through hoops.And this is really what they want to make sure you are programmed to teach, right? The actual process of teaching is not the focus so much as ensuring that teacher and student follow proper procedures leading to successful completion of assigned examinations and various other kinds of paperwork, that everyone keeps within the established timetable and curriculum.
So really, all my wanking about an enthusiastic presentation and exploration of content just proves that I’m not ready to teach in the real world because I am too naive and idealistic to understand what really goes on. The goal is not to become a facilitator for the inspired interaction of student and subject material, but an expert who can shuttle them through the maze leading to the all-valuable piece of paper. That’s all that will count for anything anyway.
I am in no way disparaging teachers, those brave souls down in the trenches making the best of a crap situation. Administrators, politicians passing laws, even researchers in their ivory towers, in other words, the official “experts” in education, they are the ones that pretend they know but do not.
Why do we carry on like this? Why do we allow someone with a golden-edged piece of paper to intimidate us so that we turn our back on things we know and go along with their absurd plans (e.g. “No Child Left Behind”). Because they have us in a financial stranglehold? Our educational system, like everything else, comes down to money. Teachers have to eat, too, and so the slide into their red-tape tar pit seems inevitable.
Is there a way to take it away from the “experts”? Is there a way to extricate their claws of theory from the jugular of reality and make education not an irrelevant path of tedium but something that feeds the mind and the soul of all involved?