NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Education Professors Have Different Views

October 22, 1997

The academic specialists who teach would-be teachers how to teach are out of touch with real world teachers and the public, according to a study by the research group Public Agenda.

The survey of 900 professors in college undergraduate and graduate education programs found that:

  • The professors believe teaching pupils to be "active learners" should be a priority -- rather than teaching classroom discipline and such basics as punctuation and grammar.
  • They resoundingly rejected the use of standardized tests to evaluate students' academic achievements.
  • Moreover, they said students should not be held back if they failed to master certain skills.

More than half of the academics said classes should not be separated by ability -- since slow learners would be helped by association with better students, while fast learners would not be harmed. Only one third of the public and 40 percent of classroom teachers agreed.

Fewer than half of the professors said students should be promoted from elementary to junior high school on the basis of test scores alone, compared with 70 percent of the public.

Nearly two thirds of professors said they believe that children become disruptive because teachers failed to engage their minds, and only about one third said it was "absolutely essential" to train teachers in maintaining classroom discipline. In an earlier Public Agenda survey, teachers identified classroom discipline as among their top concerns; 88 percent favored ejecting trouble-makers from classrooms and 84 percent favored expelling students who brought drugs or weapons to school.

Source: Somini Sengupta, "Are Teachers of Teachers Out of Touch?" New York Times, October 22, 1997.


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