Academic journal article Education Next

Low Expectations: An Insider's View of Ed School

Academic journal article Education Next

Low Expectations: An Insider's View of Ed School

Article excerpt

I could tell from the start that my experience at a highly ranked education school would be vastly different from my undergraduate experience as a foreign-language major at an Ivy League university. I took four classes the first semester, all of which were taught by adjuncts, only one of whom seemed to have a firm grasp on how to conduct a graduate-level course.

My classmates complained that her class was too hard.

One of my other instructors spent class sessions badly summarizing the readings, instigating awkward and often one-sided class discussions, or trying to explain the homework assignments and projects she thought up. When she assigned one of her own articles for us to read, it became clear that despite having completed a doctorate at our university, she could not write a coherent academic article.

Desperate for a more challenging academic experience, I increased my course load for the second semester and handpicked my instructors. I actually enjoyed most of my classes that semester, but it was at this point that I began to deeply question the university's approach to preparing future teachers.

It baffled me, for example, that I could get a master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) after having completed only one rudimentary course in linguistics and one in English grammar. Almost all of my classmates struggled greatly in these two courses, leading me to wonder whether perhaps the admission requirements might also need refining. A class in adolescent development was useful, but the program offered no course in child development, despite the fact that my certification would be for grades K-12. It seemed that they were skimming over the important topics while bogging me down with courses in "theory and practice," which did little to make me feel prepared to begin teaching on my own.

The focus of the third and fourth semesters was student teaching. My first placement was in high-school foreign language, for which I was also receiving certification. I was fortunate to work with a relatively strong supervising teacher; the infuriating aspect of this first placement was how I was evaluated. …

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