On Other Perspectives

 Why not consider a scientific perspective? The method used by science to investigate reality relies the scientific method, which generally includes some experimentation that is subject to external validation and verification. The value of any thought or discovery must be examined by qualified experts to make some determination of its worth and validity. Theories, thoughts, methods and results are shared with others for their review. This happens among educators and those who study education. However, the experts in education who are qualified to make such assessments, are not given the resources to do the level of scientific inquiry needed to make clearer determinations about what works. Also, simplistic and measurable solutions are more likely to find positive results, when their influence may be limited or even negative in the long term.

If we look at the perspectives of the parents of children in K-12 schools, according to the 2010 Gallup Poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/1612/education.aspx), 35% of parents are completely satisfied with the quality of education their oldest child is receiving, 45% satisfied, 12% somewhat dissatisfied and 7% completely dissatisfied. These numbers have changed very little in the last decade. However, the same poll shows only 43% of the general public is satisfied with the quality of education students receive in kindergarten through grade 12 in the U.S. today, with 54% dissatisfied.

 

What explains the difference of opinion between parents of K-12 students and all national adults? Though K-12 parents were 80% satisfied with their oldest child’s education, only 43% of national adults were satisfied with the quality of education K-12 student receive. One explanation might be that the K-12 parents have some direct contact with schools, whereas the others have to rely more on the media for their information. With the media, pundits and politicians portraying education and educators as failed, the general public is influenced by their judgments, while the parents with K-12 students have some first-hand experience upon which to make their judgments. Unfortunately, it seems these ideas and values promoted in the media hold sway over much of society.

 

Surveys also show that teachers generally feel the teacher education program they graduated from did a good to excellent job preparing them to be a teacher. This has been true for as long as these surveys have been conducted. They believe from their personal experience that their educational institutions and teachers, elementary, secondary and post-secondary, are doing and have done a good job. However, as we have discussed, belief that something is so does not make it so.

 

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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is recently retired as a head and professor of the School of Education at Northern Michigan University.
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