Bad Educations was the appropriate companion to “Classical Education in America.” Both expose the reasons for the frightening deterioration of American education, a subject of WQ’s in-depth look at teaching more than a quarter century ago.
I recently retired from 45 years teaching high school English; during thirteen of the earliest years I also taught Latin. My preparation for the classroom was a BA in Liberal Arts with a Philosophy major followed by a handful of “teacher prep” courses. At that time Liberal Arts (Humanities) was the expected course for the teaching profession.
Unfortunately that curriculum vanished in favor of excessive specialization and colleges mining the savings of or creating debt for prospective teachers by demanding more courses that prepared less for the classroom. For a generation I watched novice teachers enter the profession with little comprehensive knowledge and no information about anything but their own narrow slice of a major study.
From the time college professors were required to publish, they relegated their classes to assistants who were insufficiently educated (Bad Educations). To stop the downward spiral of ineffective teaching the business world wrested control from educators and relied on the flawed A Nation at Risk that based “improved” educational success on the erroneous premise that students were inanimate and malleable things.
Colleges no longer produce well-educated graduates because the professors themselves are too poorly taught: they receive no comprehensive studies while their professors publish even narrower slices of study. They turn out El-Hi teachers who lack the humanities and continue the lackluster and superficial classroom presentations that are now scripted to yield higher test scores.
It’s no wonder that college and high school graduates know little about life because nothing they have been taught has been aligned with a whole curriculum or their lives. Nor is it astonishing that they have no thinking skills: they are trained to regurgitate predetermined “important” facts.