Reality Therapy with Dr. Tom: Education

Reality Therapy with Dr. Tom: Education.

Do not kid yourself. Education in too many places, is a progressive, radical-liberal propaganda machine.

The federal government has pumped more and more money into education and it has thereby increased its control over what and how our community schools teach.

It’s real simple: “Do as we say, or loose funding”!

Using the same tactic, the federal government has also increased its demands for school and teacher record keeping and data collection to the point that education costs are going up and up, while the amount of actual teaching is proportionately decreasing.

I have found through my professional associations that many skilled, formally highly motivated teachers, have objected to all of the governmentally mandated impediments to their effective teaching. As a result, they have been met with administration disfavor, unkind, even punitive treatment.

I have learned that many formerly successful teachers are dispirited, depressed, burned-out and leaving that profession.

I also know that in many schools teachers are simply unable to deal with the disrespectful, intimidating and even barbaric treatment that they receive at the hands of increasing numbers of their students. Such students are the products of three generations of sociocultural decline in America.

Of course, teachers of honors classes are more insulated from this treatment than those in regular classrooms.

Too often such students are not disciplined or expelled, they are simply sent to other schools in the educational system, perpetuating their damaging effects upon the quality of education for those who wish to teach and those who wish to learn.

At the same time that students are graduating from high school with deepening levels of ignorance in all subjects; colleges and universities are lowering standards of admissions and engaging in herculean student retainment strategies. Also, “grade inflation” (i.e., higher grades for lower performance) is increasingly common.

Near the end of my 36 year career as a college professor, I was required to document that I personally telephone students who were doing poorly in my classes and invite them to my office for special assistance. I complied, but very few took me up on my offer.

It was always my practice, following each of the many exams that I gave to lower-level students each semester, to invite those who did poorly to visit me during office hours. During these sessions we would go over their tests to discover their study problems and I would tell them of ways to do better on the remaining exams.

Fewer students than you would expect took me up on this offer. When they did, I normally found that they were not studying the study guide questions that I reliably gave them for each chapter in their text books. Test questions were almost exclusively over these study questions.

Predictably, those who were motivated and could read at a college level did well on my tests. Those who were not did not. 

I also provided some extra-credit projects for my students.  This way, students who were having difficulty with my exams but earned some extra credit, would at least have a hope of passing my classes.

Over the years of my teaching psychology, I was rated excellent on my end-of-semester teaching evaluations by my students. However, my student evaluations declined noticeably over the years as student’s ability to read and learn college material declined. It was clear that the educational system was failing and as a result, our colleges and universities were also beginning to fail. 

It was notable that returning adult students who had graduated high school many years before my younger college students most often performed very well in my classes, as did our psychology majors in my upper level classes.

Near the end of my teaching career I had many colleagues from my own and other disciplines visit my classes to evaluate my teaching. As a result of their evaluations I was honored with an Excellence in Teaching Award.

The quality of my teaching had not declined, I would like to think it has actually improved with experience. The sad fact was that students were increasingly unprepared to learn college-level material.

Other more objective evidence is overwhelming.

See for your self!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 5/5/15

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend.

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