The mess in American higher education

To get a job teaching in American public schools, you have to take college courses in education, then do practice teaching under the supervision of an experienced teacher.  

You may or may not be pleased with the result, but the point is that school authorities don’t expect just anyone to be able to step into a classroom and teach.

Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of the history of education at the University of Pennsylvania, pointed out that college teaching is the exact opposite.

There is no meaningful professional preparation to be a college teacher.  There is no meaningful professional evaluation of college teaching.  Student evaluations don’t help.  All they’ve led to is grade inflation and easier assignments.

The majority of college teachers are adjunct faculty or temporary contractors, the lowest-paid, least secure and least prestigious in the college pecking order.

If universities were truly concerned about social justice, he wrote, there wouldn’t be so many college teachers who lack a living wage, health insurance or even a desk of their own to work at.

He said that undergraduates, because they have no standard of comparison, don’t understand how bad their teaching is.  Some of them rightly revolt against having to pay top dollar  for on-line instruction.  Others are more concerned with alleged thought-crimes of the right and left.

Zimmerman’s solution is a tuition strike.  He is disappointed that so few students are interested in this.  

I find it hard to blame the students.  So long as a college diploma is considered the only ticket to a middle class income, the college administrations will have the upper hand.


The Quiet Scandal of College Teaching by Jonathan Zimmerman for Liberties.

Why the Fuck Do You Trust Harvard? by Freddie deBoer.  College admissions are another mess.

Tags: ,

One Response to “The mess in American higher education”

  1. whungerford Says:

    Grade school teachers tend to teach as they were taught, whether their teacher education was good or bad. My brother, who was a teacher, has stories about his student teaching which suggest the experience can be very bad.

    For college it is most important that the teacher can explain the material. I think methodology is less important.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: