High burn out rate vs. number of candidates entering the field

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Another post got me thinking. I was having a hard time coming up with a title, so I'll try to expain what I'm thinking about: We often hear (around the boards as well as irl) that teachers aren't respected, aren't paid well enough, work too many unpaid hours, have unrealistic expectations placed on them, are evaluated unfairly (based on standardized test scores and things like that) and are unsupported. Although not all of those things apply to every school, I'd say in general those are true. Many even say that teacher-bashers don't really understand what the job is like, and I've heard the "if it's so easy and the pay is so great, why didn't you become a teacher" comment frequently. I would say that the general public doesn't understand everything that a teacher does. However, the other part of that is that even with high burnout and all of these problems there ARE thousands of unemployed teachers and new graduates trying desperately to break into the field each year, many trying for years to get that first job and many going into something else because they could never find work as a teacher. So how do we explain that? Do you think people major in education not really understanding what their "real job" will be like? Or maybe they do by the end, but don't want all that time/money getting their degree to be wasted? I was one of the lucky ones who got a FT job right after graduation. Most of my friends were not so lucky- in fact the great majority of my graduating class is still looking for a teaching position (2 years later). Those of us that found jobs either relocated or went way outside of our certication (the one candidate that got a job in our home state works with high school students with severe/profound special education needs, which is way outside what our program focused on). I can see how from their perspective, it can be upsetting to hear so many teachers "complaining" about the field with so many people that would give anything to just get a teaching job. One of the people on my grade level team in student teaching was constantly complaining about her job. I admit to thinking, "if you don't want it, I'd love to have it!" So, what do you think? Given the difficulties of the job and the high burnout/turnover rate, why are there still so many candidates entering the field?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I don't know the answer to this question, but it is definitely on the minds of many school boards. I know that one of the members from a local school board made comments along the lines of many teachers looking for a job and we are complaining about our pay and benefits....
     
  4. KinderCowgirl

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    I think part of it is that people are not able to financially retire as they had planned, so the openings are not happening as regularly as they used to-plus budget cuts with layoffs. So it seems like many more candidates than before, but might be the same number of candidates, just less openings for them.

    I do think people have an unrealistic view of what teaching is. We had a candidate who interviewed this year fabulously-great model lesson, enthusiastic, passionate; we had 3 openings and were all fighting over who got this one--ended up quitting the 2nd week because it was too stressful. I just think the public in general has a view of teaching as being an easy job-summers off, shorter workdays (yeah, I know :rolleyes:).
     
  5. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    I honestly don't have an answer to your question but I do agree that education majors do not really know what teaching is like. I am hoping that many colleges have education students constantly in the schools from day one so they can see how it works. But I do think we will agree that it isn't until you are teaching your own class that you REALLY know what is going on.

    I don't think that members of school boards really know what teachers do either. They see the "business" side of money and what is spent, not quality of teaching. I totally understand that not all teachers currently teaching are good (most are, I think) but I also don't think that all new teachers are good or will be good. Of course, this is just my opinion.:whistle:
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree with much of what has already been posted. I'll add that I think many education students are bright-eyed and idealistic. They believe that the horror stories they've heard are the exception and not the rule. They also believe that they are going to be able to change the system from within.
     
  7. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I honestly don't think most new teachers know what they are getting in to. Also, the amount of paperwork and pressure put on teachers has increased every year and think most teachers think back to how it was when they were a student or what they see when they observe. I student teacher seeing my lesson wouldn't know that I came into work an hour early to prep my materials and had a meeting during my conference time and after school and then took work home and all of that stuff, they would just see the lesson and the kids learning something hands on.
     
  8. Ms. I

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    I don't know what the statistics are regarding people still wanting into the teaching field, but if it's that great an amount, I honestly don't know why people want to go into teaching other than having the passion of course, which I guess is a good enough reason (no matter how "bad" it seems out there.) I can't relate. I personally NEVER wanted to be a teacher myself. A career w/ kids yes, but NEVER a teacher. I prefer to work w/ them one-on-one or in very small groups at least. I was in special ed very briefly & even got a grad degree in it, but I'm so glad I switched gears to speech-language pathology.

    And regarding other people always undermining teaching & not knowing how it really is, yes, I'd love to see everyone else try it for a good month. But, then they could say the same to us I suppose & say things like, "You need to try being a policeman, doctor, or fireman for a month."
     
  9. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Yes the education majors and teachers looking for jobs just don't know what they are getting into. Once they become employed they will probably be out as fast as many others, and then there will be many more ready to take their place because once again, they don't know what they're getting into...IN GENERAL & IN MY OPINION.

    I thought that as long as I was passionate, smart, put the students first, nurturing, fair, enthusiastic, consistent, loving, inspiring, blah blah blah that I would have a great teaching career. But the system is corrupt and really doesn't care about my passion, talents, or anything except lifeless numbers on a piece of paper. I refuse to be a part of a system that I don't believe in ethically & morally.

    I thought that I could really make a difference & that I would be respected as a human being who chose to make sacrifices for children that I didn't even birth! Instead, I learned insanely quickly how the system & those who run it do not care about the kids. The stress & constant battles are not worth it to me.

    Sadly it's the kids who lose in the end.
     
  10. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I believe many think they are so little removed from their own K-12 education that they fully understand what is happening in the classroom today. Fact is, if they have been in college for four years, things have changed dramatically during that time. So I think that's one thing.

    For those who are aware of how drastically it's changed, as others have said, they think it will be worth it or that they can avoid some of it by "shutting their door and just teaching".

    And sometimes it's just really hard letting go of a dream you've had since you were four or five. That's one reason I'm still in.
     
  11. engineerkyle

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    Just to build on what has already been said about the high number of candidates; I think there is a relatively new type of applicant, and their numbers are growing.

    With SO many out of work these days, professionals from a variety of fields are turning to education as a second career. They are not enamored with the idea of teaching, nor do they "love" kids, they just need a job to cover the bills they ran up during the boom times.

    I've taken two state cert. tests, and in each case there were thousands like me lined up around the block.

    This is not all bad, those prospects that make it in will give this (mostly state run) academic business some new perspective, it think.

    Kyle
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  12. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    I think I have to agree with this as well. They're not concerned about inspiring kids or doing what's developmentally appropriate, creating lifelong learners and so on.

    There is definitely a new breed of applicants/teachers taking over.

    Thus there will never be a teacher shortage no matter how bad the field gets. I usually always connect with & relate to the "old school" teachers who have been teaching for 20 or 30 years. They are a rare breed in my area, they are leaving the field, but my philosophy usually always matches theirs and not that of the younger teachers. (Though I'm only in my 30s)
     
  13. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    But not being passionate about teaching and children? Just needing to pay their bills? :(

    Well, I guess that might be beneficial...because when you are passionate about teaching and learning and children, the system can really break you down. Someone more business-oriented and willing to be follow scripts and be a machine in the classroom might not be so bothered by the direction of education.
     
  14. engineerkyle

    engineerkyle Companion

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    Yes, that is (in part) what I am saying. The administration, at every level, KNOWS how passionate most teachers are about their kids; How teachers will do most anything to maintain the care and control they have developed in their classrooms. So, whether it be cuts in pay, or benefits, or more heads per classroom, the powers that be know the teacher will cave in for the sake of the kids.

    I think a new breed of more objective teachers will be more likely to protest the direction of education in this country, and be less likely broken down by it.
     
  15. engineerkyle

    engineerkyle Companion

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    But I disagree with you here, Justine....

    Not all who are entering the field as a second career will be "machines".

    And I expect many of those who are content to only guide scripted lessons will wash out.

    Kyle
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'm simultaneously more jaded than webmistress and less jaded. On the one hand, the practicalities of the field for the last decade have bred increasingly for the sort of docility that facilitates teaching to the test; on the other hand, I think the pendulum is beginning to swing the other way. (I've seen lots of iterations of the pendulum swing in my decades as a teacher groupie...)

    And I predict a teacher shortage in... let me see... seven to ten years.
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Of course they all won't. But you said yourself said that many are not enamored by teaching and children but just need a paycheck. That seems like teachers who will perform more like a machine in that they will perform their duties, but will lack intense passion (and thus probably fail to connect fully to many of the students who benefit from those teachers who do love children).
     
  18. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I think a lot of it has to do with the financial situation most of the school districts in our country are in. Although specific districts may always have an over abundance of applicants, in many districts as little as 8 years ago or less there was a shortage of teachers. Then the economic downturn caused the districts to not hire as many teachers and change the amount of children in the classrooms thus not having to replace retiring teachers. The economic downturn also caused many teachers who may have been planning to retire to postpone retirement. The economic downturn also has caused districts across the US to give RIF which if someone is being laid off in one district and another district is still hiring they go to that district, most administration will hire someone who has a year or two experience over a brand new teacher. All of these have created a false picture that there is a surplus of new teachers. I also think in the next five years or so we will be back to the needing more teachers due to the baby boomers retiring and the class size changes leveling out.
     
  19. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    EMonkey, I agree on almost all points.

    However, one thing I've observed about graduate programs in the humanities is that they change very, very slowly. They have been producing 1000 PhDs/year for 20 years despite only about 700 jobs a year. They keep thinking there will be an increase "when the Baby Boomers retire."

    I think schools of education suffer from the same problem. They increased enrollments (which meant more faculty, more staff, bigger buildings) when there was a "shortage."

    If they retreat, they stand to lose their institutional power. Thus they will not be likely to do so. They'll keep taking students, graduating them, and watching them try to find employment.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Because, if you can find the right job, there's no other career in the world like it.
     
  21. Barbera

    Barbera Companion

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    Just like outsiders who criticize teachers. People studying to be teachers do not understand the teaching job until they are actually doing it. They imagine one thing and end up with another.
     
  22. Barbera

    Barbera Companion

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    I don't know about that, but it would be nice.
     
  23. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Those teaching machines who are not passionate about education would have a hard time getting a job at my school (and, I think in my district). There are too many new and displaced teachers with a passion for teaching who are looking for jobs. There are very few open positions in my district (except for Physics and Chemistry) so the competition is fierce.

    I've heard administrators discuss young job candidates with worry that the staff won't have the time or resources to help them jump into a position running. Maturity and job experience have become assets because, at least at the secondary level, there is not much time to mentor a young teacher. These days, many teachers are overloaded with preps and expected to participate in running the school (at Charters and Pilot schools).

    This is good news for young candidates who cannot find a teaching job right out of college. Building any kind of career experience outside of teaching can be an asset if properly framed on a resume. There is a push in secondary schools to teach career paths. Our teachers who have job experience in their fields, outside of education are a hot commodity.
     
  24. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    In 12 years in my district, only one teacher left to do something else. She was back to teaching two years later.
    Certainly this is not an easy profession and it's not a fit for everyone. Follow your passion...if this isnt it, there is Something else out there. It's not good for anyone to be miserable, tired and burned out in a job.
     
  25. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Sometimes I wonder if all these prospective teachers aren't reading the news, or just have the passion so they persist, or don't know what else to do, or ????

    I continue to think that most teaching colleges continue to do students a disservice and are not giving them enough practical experiences and knowledge, leaving them unprepared for the realities of the classroom. I think they make students believe things will get better before they graduate, or if they just add one more masters or certification, or ???? Do the professors who haven't been in the classroom a long time really understand the difficulties current teachers encounter? Do they give too rosey a picture? Why are they accepting so many candidates if there aren't enough jobs?

    This is the first year in my long career I have doubted how long I will stay in the field. The everyday stress of dealing with some kids with severe emotional and social issues is taking the fun out of it and I feel sorry for the other kids who are being shortchanged by the daily battles. Has it changed or me?
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    scmom, I wonder that as well...why so many are accepted into teacher prep programs given the realities graduates face in so many regions.

    All of the schools around here are very selective for every medical-related program. To get into the nursing program at the community college, you better have at least a 3.8 in your basics and an "A" in anatomy. Officially, the GPA must be 3.0 minimally. Only a dozen or two are accepted a year into some programs, such as dental hygiene. But to be a teacher? The requirement was a 2.5 GPA. I didn't understand that at all and still don't.
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It has never NOT been competitive for jobs in metro NYC. The economy hasn't really effected the odds of finding a job; they have been outrageous since at least the Vietnam War.

    Yet that didn't deter me or my husband anyone I know from persuing a career as a teacher.

    It's not the job of college to prepare you for the realities of the job market. That's your job as an adult. It's the job of college to prepare you to teach.
     
  28. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I disagree. I feel the college should most certainly prepare students for the job market. Most colleges have departments for "school to career", so they must agree at least to a point.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2012
  29. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I'm one of those "old school" teachers. When I entered this career field 38 years ago most of my colleagues were dedicated professionals who truly cared about their students. The teachers I worked with were mostly content with their job. I have noticed a tremendous change in the field of education beginning about 15-20 years ago when the powers that be decided that testing was more important than teaching. The pressures discussed by the OP began disillusioning many of us "old school" people and many of us have left the field rather than fight what we believe is an immoral system.
    New graduates don't know what education used to be (and still should be). They continue to enter the field buoyed by promises of increasing pay, vacation time, and "job satisfaction". These new teachers drop out shortly after entering the field when they realize the downfalls of their chosen profession.

    I now think that those impassioned, "true" teachers are in the minority. This chat site sort of illustrates this theory. Go back over the last few years and see how few members are still teaching compared to those people registered on the site.

    I will hang out in the classroom for another year or so until my husband retires, but not because I am impassioned about teaching anymore. I will still give 110% for my students, but to tell you the truth, I am only in it for the paycheck now.
     
  30. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Whether or not colleges have an obligation to inform students about the job market, it's not in the interest of schools of education to cut back on enrollments.

    Departments and schools within universities earn money by increasing their role in the institution as a whole. So: more butts in seats = more funding.

    More funding means you hire more faculty, get better technology, merit pay, etc.

    So why would any school of education - ever, anywhere - cut back on enrolled students? Those students pay tuition, the university funnels some of the tuition to the department, everyone gets travel funding, and they live happily ever after.

    Except the hapless graduates, of course.

    It's important to appreciate that institutions act in their interests. As long as funding and prestige within universities links directly to enrollments there will be zero incentive for departments to graduate fewer education majors.
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    That certainly makes sense to me, Katherine, but what doesn't is how the medical programs limit enrollment severely. Or is that just here that it happens?
     
  32. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    So true. Like my US history professor told me in college, "whenever you wonder about the reasoning behind a major decision in hisotry, alwasy follow the money". I will never forget his words and it's so true.
     
  33. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    JustMe---I think that this is a reason that many schools do not have medical programs and those that do have medical programs are often tied to a local hospital where the students work for free or very low wages for a lot longer than student teaching.
     
  34. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    In a lot of cases the nursing, medical, and other science fields within universities have a different funding structure.

    Science departments, for example, are far less dependent on the institution for funding because they can receive large grants for research. Those grants often pay for overhead (ie, space, equipment, staff). So they're less vulnerable to small enrollments.

    Medical schools are also rare and prestigious. They very often work under models developed through hospitals, not university funding processes. So the medical school claims more money in different ways and can make its own rules.

    Your point about selectivity was interesting, JustMe, and I agree with you that admissions standards ought to be higher.

    I used to teach history at a regional university. Our majors were either history or history teaching. The history teaching majors had, on average, lower GPAs and lower exit-exam scores. Our best students didn't major in history teaching because they couldn't deal with the BS coming out of the College of Education (I mean the paperwork, not the coursework). So we mostly sent our less-skilled students across the way. Not always, but often. It was sad. And many of them are now unemployed, which I know because I'm constantly writing letters of reference trying to help them find a job.
     
  35. isabunny

    isabunny Comrade

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    There are not enough jobs for teachers who are graduating because whole schools have been closed down and districts have increased class sizes to eliminate teaching positions. What has happened in my state over the last four years is that schools have increased classes sizes every year. Each time it eliminates at least one position per class level. So for an elementary school that can be between 5-10 teachers each year. This creates empty classrooms. The school districts redistrict to save money and close down some of the elementary schools because of low "enrollment." However the enrollment in the schools is technically the same, they just have empty classrooms from increasing enrollment. Now they can save money by closing a whole school which eliminates administration, janitors, teachers, special ed., PE, Nurse, Councelor, ect... Saves the district millions of dollars. So all the school personal that lost their jobs due to school closings and layoffs are added to the population of new graduates. I am one of those teachers who has been looking for a job for 2 1/2 years. I am now back in school changing my career course. I had always wanted to be a teacher my whole life and new my second career would be teaching. Planned it out to be a teacher for the second half of my life, working in my neighborhood school for a good 20-25 years, and retiring from the same school. Just hasn't happened for me! I am looking at the brightside and thinking not getting a teaching job is leading me in a new, maybe happier direction.
     
  36. engineerkyle

    engineerkyle Companion

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    This seems counter-productive to me. In the long run, if graduating class after graduating class ends up as the highly educated unemployed, wouldn't the university eventually get a rap for creating unproductive classes?

    Or do the universities simply and unscrupulously sell ed. students a "bill of goods"? Year after year after year......
     
  37. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    My school's education program was actually the most selective on campus. I went to a small liberal arts school, so there were not graduate programs for medicine and things like that which may have been more competitive. We did of course have the traditional biology, chemistry, etc. for people looking to go down that road later. It was the only major on campus you actually had to apply to get in- you couldn't just declare your major as education. For elementary ed it was a pretty tight schedule and you started taking classes freshman year- and even in those classes they had us out in schools doing field experiences so that people would at least get a feel for it. A lot of people left the program at this point, realizing they didn't really like teaching- which was great since at many schools they wouuld have had to wait until student teaching senior year to find that out. Every semester starting the 2nd semester of freshman year you did a "field experience" which was like a mini student teaching where you went in for about 9-12 weeks and stayed for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week. We were usually in charge of planning/teaching one or two subjects to the students, and they made sure we got to every grade level in our licensure before student teaching. At the end of sophomore year you officially applied to be part of the program. You had to have a 3.2 GPA overall and a 3.5 GPA in education classes, as well as positive ratings on 25 "outcomes" (similar to what most schools use for evaluating their teachers) related to your actual teaching. Senio year we taught for almost the full year where we were 100% in charge of the classroom for all but the first few weeks. We had a student teacher at my school last year who only came for 10 weeks, and then only taught as the teacher 100% in charge for 2 weeks! I couldn't believe it! They kicked A LOT of people out over the years. I used to think that was really harsh, and then of course as I saw the reality of the job market I began to realize they were actually doing those people a favor. I think my school did an excellent job preparing us for the realities of being in the classroom. My university was located right next to a very low performing urban district where we did many of our field experiences, so it wasn't like they placed us in rosey environments either. I once worked in a school with 6% proficiency on the state test in 3rd grade.

    However, I don't think they prepared people for the realities of trying to get a job. My parents were teachers and most of our family friends were teachers, so I knew majoring in education that the job market was really tough. I knew my freshman year that I probably wouldn't be able to find a job in my home state and would need to relocate, and I decided I wanted to do it anyway. Many of my classmates who didn't have the same background I did seemed to be totally unaware of this, and my univeristy glossed right over it. Senior year when people finally started looking into jobs, they started asking questions about what would happen if they couldn't find one within 2 years when their provisional license would expire. The professors would always say, "Oh look how prepared you are. You'll get jobs." It also changed a whole lot between my freshman year and senior year. My freshman year I distinctly remember my dad reading me an article in the paper saying that in our home city there was an average of 100 applicants for every teaching job. I thought those were horrible odds. By my senior year, it was up in the thousands. I do think that when people entering college see those numbers now, they simply think "Oh I have four years. Things will get better by then." I've even seen tons of posts on here where teachers will tell people entering school to stay positive and that you "never know" what the market will be like in four years. I'm personally not comfortable with that. Given the high number of people looking for positions now, and the fact that it just increases two fold every year when universities pump out new graduates when the old graduates never found jobs, there's no way the market will be good in four years. I do think people entering college programs need to be aware of that. If it's still your passion and you know you still want to do it even with those kind of odds, then great. That's basically what I did. I think people need to be informed enough to make the right decision though.
     
  38. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Jan 1, 2012

    Aliceacc, I respectfully disagree and will play a little devil's advocate. Many colleges are supported by taxpayer dollars. Are we wasting our money as taxpayers paying for excess people to be trained into jobs (teaching or other professions) where they have only a small chance of being gainfully employed in the next few years? As a society, wouldn't we be better served guiding students in other directions?

    I understand an organization's need and culture to protect itself, but if we all have this mentality, how do we progress as a society and have our economy grow? Education for education's sake is wonderful, but should it be funded by taxpayers?

    I think a job of a college is to prepare us to teach (or do other professions) but it is my contention most do not do a good job of preparing teachers or engineers or whatever with the practical skills they need in the workforce and, job searching and preparation are some of those skills.

    We keep doing things in the same way as we have for decades and acknowledge it doesn't work well anymore, but aren't taking the risk of making fundamental changes in our institutions that are needed. What's the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?
     
  39. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 1, 2012

    People go to college and major in MANY things that won't necessarily lead to a job. There are no guarantees in life (outside of death and taxes). Caveat emptor.
    That said, I don't think any education is a waste of time or resource. The more we learn, the greater our opportunities. Those opportunities may not be the ones on which you planned, but opportunities nonetheless.:2cents:
     
  40. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jan 1, 2012

    You'd think so, Kyle. I agree.

    But...evidence from PhD programs and degree programs in teaching that focus on elementary ed, history, and English suggest otherwise.

    Let me give you a piece of data to blow your mind. In 2002, the American Historical Association asked all PhD granting institutions to respond to a survey. 30% did so (amazing results, as surveys go). One thing the AHA asked was whether schools keep track of where their graduates work and how many find work within a few years.

    The answers were: No, no and no. Schools did not keep track.

    Why does this blow minds? Because it's not just that they don't place their students. It's that they don't care to know that they don't place them. If they kept track, they'd have to address the problem and tell the truth when asked. So they don't record outcomes. That way, they can generalize.

    Look at the websites for PhD's in history. They say "places our recent graduates teach" and they list schools. Which grads? When did they finish? No data. Are they in tenure-track jobs? No data. Do they get tenure? No data.

    This is endemic in the academy. They don't keep records thus they don't know things thus they don't have to be responsible.
     
  41. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jan 1, 2012

    My university did keep track and publish the results of percentages of people that found jobs. However, it was really dishonest because they just called it "people who found jobs in education." A "job in education" could be substitute teaching or being a para/teacher's aide- in this manner, the university was able to say that something like 98% of grads were able to "find jobs in education." I know that within my graduating education program classmates, only 3 of us found full time jobs- two of us relocated really far away and the 3rd found a job (midway through the year) in an area way outside our certification.
     

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