George Will on teacher education

George Will joins the bandwagon decrying the state of teacher education in his article "Ed Schools vs. Education." His solution for improving the quality of education: "Close all the schools of education."

Will cites liberally from Robin Wilson's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on education schools discriminating on the basis of personal beliefs and "dispositions." It's not clear how many education schools are like the ones cited in Wilson's article, but it is more than troubling if prospective teachers are disqualified on the basis of personal beliefs that conflict with those of the school's.

Somehow, Will jumps from this obvious problem to the claims, "The permeation of ed schools by politics is a consequence of the vacuity of their curricula," that education "is about "constructing one's own knowledge" and "contextualizing knowledge," but never about knowledge of things like biology or history."

I doubt that education schools are not interested in "knowledge." Rather, knowledge is an obvious, and therefore assumed, goal. The question in education, then, is, How can we help students acquire knowledge?, and thus the emphasis on "constructing" and "contextualizing." I remember while newly arrived in Turkey, someone asked if I would like some tea (all in Turkish), and I replied, Thank you. Alhtough I waited some time, no tea came forth, because while to me "Thank you" included "yes," in Turkish culture, "Thank you " means "No, thank you." Knowledge is very much contextualized.

I can imagine areas in which I would like to see education schools change. I can think of quite a few ways in which I'd like to change my own teaching practices. However, shallow hyperbole does little but re-inforce the closed mindsets of those already on the bandwagon.