First, I believe everyone knows how to educate, the politician and even poorly educated persons. For teaching isn’t a Priesthood or even an especially difficult endeavor. It’s in our very nature as is learning. When we make children, we educate them to our ability – if only the established bureaucracy doesn’t interfere. However, we can only teach what we know; which is why parents send their kids to school. They presume teachers know and love their subjects. And the teacher acts in loco parentis. Knowledge is all - and a passionate love for it!
Most teachers have been filled with the view that they go to school to learn Teaching, which is an error. They must learn about the “monuments of unaging intellect,” as Yeats said. Their love for their subject will imbue their students with an excitement they normally only get on the football field. Then they will learn. For example, when English is taught, what are the words used to delight the little minds? Remember, as a boy, Abraham Lincoln, a manual laborer and rail splitter (whose father had no schooling) learned from his mother the lovely phrases of the King James Bible and Shakespeare. We can hear it now in his language. What is found in fashionable Maya Angelou that recommends her verse compared to the boisterous teenage Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet? My thought is that the same appreciation the teacher shows for Chaucer, Shakespeare and Swift applies to something as abstract as mathematics for there is certainly delight in that learning also if only the teacher truly loves the subject.
If I had my way we would have a Core Curriculum for the teachers not the students, where those teachers would be required to qualify by judging their desire to express their passion for their subject and their ability to communicate it. That is to say, we should have a teacher for each subject not for each class realizing that in a diverse student body children show progress at different rates. It is appropriate to have students of different ages and skills grouped together, instead of the forced and unnatural pass-fail class system that we now use. In my system they will all pass by recognizing excellence in the work of others and by competition find achievement and then be measured by the fullness and sincerity of their own work.
As I see it, the problem with the teaching of Education today is that teachers learn teaching instead of subjects. And higher paid once-teachers, the Principals, are bureaucratic overseers of a plantation called the Neighborhood School where the students are the slaves of a teachers’ union whose main interest is salary and benefits for their members having no thought whatsoever for the slaves. The highest pay should go to good teachers who spark imagination inflaming youthful passions. The Principal’s job should be abolished or given to the gardener or janitor. In the primary grades time should be mainly spent on reading and writing stories, number play and hearing history and song. All valuable learning begins with skills in reading, writing, music, morality and math. It’s easy to specialize and concentrate in anything else useful in the 21st Century once those skills are acquired.