Women have earned 10 MILLION more college degrees than men since 1982 — but in what? A deep dive.

According to The Department of Education, women are now earning the majority of college degrees in the US, with approximately 140 women graduating from college for every 100 men.  I can’t provide a link for you because:

Dear Users,

Due to a lapse of appropriations and the partial shutdown of the Federal Government, the systems that host nces.ed.gov have been shut down. Services will be restored as soon as a continuing resolution to provide funding has been enacted.

IES – Institute of Education Sciences

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_310.asp

…so you’ll have to take my word for it.  There are two things that are interesting about this.

First up, where is the concern over the under-representation of men on campus? Why don’t we have a special government taskforce addressing the dearth of men on campus? Why aren’t there on campus Men’s Centers to provide the minority a safe space to reflect on their situations? Where the hell are the affirmative action programs for men.

But what are the degrees in?

Today, let’s look at what an average college campus would look like if the men decided to play hooky for a day.  What exactly are the men doing on campus?

I can’t trace back to the original Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Census databases, which are also off-line thanks to all those Republicans who hate birth control (snark), but I’ll make due with some secondary sources. The following numbers are from 2008.

Let’s hit the Faculty of Education first, shall we?

Looks like classes in Advanced Crayons and Gluing Popsicle Sticks will be carrying on just fine.  Only 21.3% of that Faculty is made up of men.  Ha!  You won’t even be missed!

How about the Faculty of Nursing?

Oh, please.  A measly 14.6% of that Faculty are men, although I suspect the really hard thinky classes in anesthesiology will be sitting empty, since most Registered Nurse Anesthesiologists are actually men.

How about we peek in the Faculties of Social Sciences, Communications, Business and History?

Psychology classes are pretty much unaffected.  Only 22.9% of psychology majors are men.  Classes in Shakespeare and Early 14th Century Poetry are still crammed with students.  Only 21.3% of men in college are there to study English Language and Literature.  Still Life Drawing and Advanced Modern Jazz classes?  No worries.  38.6% of those classes have men.  Communications is pretty much the same: 37.5% of the students are men.

History and sociology classes are looking pretty sparse, though.  50.7% of those students are male, and business class is pretty subdued today, too.  51% of all business majors are men.

http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/10/most-popular-college-degrees-for-women-forbes-woman-leadership-education-business.html

Arty-farty life continues unaffected, and we barely even notice that all the boys cut class today.  Ha!

Okay, let’s see what’s going on in the Faculty of Engineering!

Oh dear.  Well, the numbers for 2002 don’t look good, and given that the percentage of women in engineering has remained more or less stable for the past 25 years, it’s probably safe to assume the same basic numbers are true today.

Electrical and Mechanical lecture halls are empty. In a class of 100, 13 students showed up in mechanical and 14 were there for electrical. All the rest are playing video games at home. 18 students show up in Aerospace and 25 students in Civil.

Chemical classes are a bit better. 35 students who are not men are there. 33 students are in Industrial, and 31 students in Materials.

Overall, the classes in the Faculty of Engineering are pretty empty. By 2010, over 80% of all engineering degrees are going to men.

http://www.aps.org/programs/education/statistics/womenmajors.cfm

Faculty of Computer Science?

82.4% of the students are a no-show.

Faculty of Science? Using the chart above, it looks like this:

Biology classes are holding their own. 60% of the students are women. And Chemistry is not doing all that bad. Only half the class didn’t show up. In mathematics and statistics, just over 40% of the class is there, and the same goes for earth sciences.

Physics classes are not doing so great. Only 20% of the students show up.

Hey, why don’t we see how the Faculty of Graduate Studies is doing on this day that men skip out?

Nursing and other health sciences won’t even notice! Less than 20% of Masters in that field go to men. Communications, Biomedical Sciences, Education, English, Foreign Languages and Literature, Psychology, Public Administration and the Performing Arts are all going to be fine, too. Women are a solid majority of the advanced degree earners in those fields.

Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences are not going to be so lucky. Most of their students will be gone, and the ones that do show up probably won’t have an instructor anyways, since most of the doctorates (AKA slave laborers) go to men, too.

So, basically all the classes in thinking, feeling, dancing, coloring, talking and reading will continue on as usual if men cut out for the day. All the classes in counting, measuring, building, programming, discovering and analyzing will be devoid of students.

I’ll take a moment here to give a shout out to nursing, which doesn’t involve a whole lot of book reports or poetry analytics.  Nursing is science, and the women in that Faculty deserve due credit.

But the rest?

Bachelors of Bullshit.  Barista of Arts.  Summa cum latte.

P.S. Are you using Brave yet? Delay the skynet by using the browser that automatically strips all tracking and ads. Brendan Eich (of JavaScript fame) is its CEO.

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[…] food are going to men. But then we have education, and the much vaunted statistic that there are more women than men earning college degrees (In Feminist Dance Therapy, not Particle Physics, but that’s another story), so once again, women […]

Michael S
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Michael S

I studied in Electrical Engineering in TU Berlin and currently work in Schlumberger. When i was still in class, the number of females in my class even were worse. If your stats showed that “14 from 100 students in electrical engineering are women” , in my class there were only 5 women from “150″ students. In Mechanical Engineering was even much worse, there was NO any female in there, lol

patriarchal landmine
Guest
patriarchal landmine

how many women ever actually graduate with a degree in mathematics? forget about how many are sitting in the class.

Ed
Guest
Ed

It’s a bit late, but I just found this today:
http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/why-did-17-million-students-go-to-college/27634

“All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.”

Andy B
Guest
Andy B

I live in Melbourne, Australia and completed an Engineering degree there. Whilst there I noted how the ratios are the same as you mention, if not worse. We don’t have quite as bad “rape culture” thing happening here because moving away to University really isn’t much of a thing, with a significant proportion of students living with parents all through University. This doesn’t help the image we have of children staying at home until they’re 30, but I digress.
In my final year, once I had the confidence to do so, I went up to the Information Desk at the University and here’s the conversation that took place:
Me: “Excuse me, could you tell me where the ‘Men’s Room’ is?”
Lady: “It’s right behind you”
Me: “No, that’s the men’s toilets, I was looking for the equivalent to the ‘Womyn’s Room’”
Lady: “We don’t have one of those”
Me: “Oh, ok, well can you please tell me where the ‘Straight Room’ is?”
Lady: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Well, you have a ‘Queer Room’ for gay people, what about one for straight people?”
Lady: “No, we don’t have one of those either”.
Me: “What about an ‘Atheists’ room’?”
Lady: “No, we don’t have one of those”
Me: “Well you’ve got an ‘International room’ for all the international people, what about an ‘Australian Room’?”
Lady: “No. Listen, all of those groups you’ve mentioned are minorities and need spaces of their own to ‘get away’ from the general masses, which may be against them for some reason”.
Me: “Well, as a straight, white, male, atheist I can assure you that I am well and truly in the minority here and my student fees go to paying for real estate for all of these other groups and I don’t get anything”.
Lady: “But you’re privileged, so you don’t need a room”.

So there you have it. Despite belonging to the minority gender on campus, I was still unworthy of a small space to get away from the masses.

stitchinvixen
Guest
stitchinvixen

JB,

First off, I love your blog and I’ve been an avid reader for months. I say this with the upmost respect, and I hope that you can bear with me through this rant.

I’ve had a tough week lately trying to defend my major choice to people, seeing as it is the pinnacle of all Barista of Fine Arts degrees and therefore arguably the most female populated and the most “useless”: dance. And get this: it’s from a women’s college too! I seem to pretty much represent the exact sort of woman who, in your eyes, is earning a completely useless degree and contributing to the rising gap in college degrees given to men vs. women, all while shouting, “Girl Power! Look at me! I’m educated!”

I’m only a sophomore and haven’t officially declared my major yet, but from the reactions that people give me when I tell them I’m a dance major, I’m starting to consider switching to a subject I’m awful at and something I can’t stand because it will make everyone feel better, and I’ll stop getting asked if I realize that I can’t make any money in dance or that I won’t be an actual functional member of society if I choose to be a choreographer instead of a doctor or an engineer. I’m sad to say this blog hit a little too close to home, and while I can usually laugh at and agree with what you write, today I’m forced to feel like I’m wasting my life. It was difficult for mr to pay attention to the point of your post this morning since in the back of my mind I felt insulted the whole time (not that I’m gonna whine about being offended, I know you’re called judgy bitch for a reason).

What I’m trying to get at is, I completely agree that the under-representation of men in colleges and universities is a major problem, and one that we should not keep ignoring. But you also seem to have the perspective that women earning degrees in the Arts and Humanities shouldn’t even be there, as their chosen majors are “useless”. I’d truly like to know, in your honest opinion, what is your aversion to someone who has chosen to do what they love, even if it is in *gulp* the fine arts? Especially women, who make up the majority of those arts majors?

All the best!

John
Guest
John

I take the point of these types of posts as more of a “so what” women earn more degrees than “women should be ashamed of their degrees.” It seems to me that someone passionate about dance would have good reason to pursue dance in college. It doesn’t seem reasonable that a person with a dance degree would feel that said degree gives her more “worth” than a plumber.

Related rambling tangent
I was a finance major, and in college I only dropped one class – drawing. I enjoy drawing so took “intro to drawing” (not Drawing I) hoping that I would be able to develop some basic skills (shading, dimension, etc). The professor(?) told us the first day of class that the grading would be based on how good we were as artists, and not account for our effort or improvement. Then he gave us our first assignment – “find a Renaissance painting and replicate it in pencil.” After assignment two – find a photographic portrait in a magazine and replicate – I said screw this.

In retrospect, outcome based grading seemed fair in finance and statistics courses where I always had the highest grade in the class, but damn did objective quality of art seem unfair in intro to drawing (especially since I had to take non-finance electives). Maybe because I remembered 5th grade where pre-algebra was grade based and painting was effort scored (1-5).Or maybe it seemed ridiculous that my perfect finance grades would be afflicted by a bad drawing grade. I mean, what if I applied to a financial planning firm and they saw my gpa; that number wouldn’t convey “outstanding finance student, crappy face drawing skills.”

I wound up taking a class afterwards called finite math, which was a course for arts students incapable of pre-algebra. (“We don’t get many Senior finance majors in here”) The most challenging problem I encountered there was one of probability – if you have 10 marbles, and 5 are red, what is the probability of randomly choosing 1 red marble if you remove one of the non-red ones first? (They also taught us how to determine if a picture can be traced without lifting the pencil and retracing a segment by counting the number of intersections).

Those arts majors have college degrees now, and those degrees probably helped many of them achieve their goals. You’ve got to follow YOUR goals. Someone may say “what worth is a dance degree when you can’t count.” Someone else might say “why do I need to know math when I want to be a professional dancer.”

James
Guest
James

It used to being a scholar was a profession in and of itself. The pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake was a career choice. Collegiate humanity’s departments are still operating under those assumptions, that you are here solely to learn. Speaking from the point of view of a (too) practical man, modern college is about getting a degree in something that improves your job opportunities. Most men go into college with that idea in mind.

If you understand that dance isn’t going to increase your job market value and still want to do it, then go ahead. (I don’t think anyone, including Mrs. Judgy, would be care if you did.) But don’t fall under the assumption that you went to college for 4-6 years and got a degree therefore are qualified to do work that your degree didn’t qualify you for.

Other than that, do what you want.

Janet Bloomfield
Guest
Janet Bloomfield

Stitchinvixen

I’m not really making an argument that the arts and humanities are worthless subjects to pursue. I write in a deliberately polemical style to highlight what always gets left out of the conversation about how women earn so many more college degrees than men: what are they earning them in?

Being a dance major is fine, although I do hope you have given a lot of consideration as to just what you hope to DO with that. I’m a film major myself, and I gave very little thought to what that provide me with in terms of job market skills, but part of that is because I loved my experience on campus so much, I knew I wasn’t going to leave. A PhD was always in my plans, although reality helped me shift my focus to business and innovation, away from being an expert in the symbolic meanings of Johnny Depp films.

The issue I’m trying to highlight is that dancing may be the very thing that expresses just who you are and what you want to contribute to the world, but what it won’t contribute is any of the practical needs we need addressed. Dancing won’t help build better bridges or invent new medical techniques or get us out there mining asteroids for precious metals. It’s nice. But not necessary.

Thinking about adding an accounting course or two to your schedule. That way, when you open your own dance studio, you will have some clue as to how to manage your finances and you won’t forget that you need to pay taxes!

And most of all, keep your “education” in perspective. You may have more credentials than the local roofing crew, but when bad weather rips all the shingles off your studio, all the jazz hands in the world won’t help you fix that.

I’m trying to encourage a little humility. Sure women have lots and lots of degrees under their belts. But they’re mostly in the esoteric. The real work is done by men.

Acknowledge that. Perhaps with an interpretive dance?
😀

Adam
Guest
Adam

Do not knock humanities. Example, with Women’s Studies you end up having

– Strong critical thinking skills
– The ability to think creatively to solve problems
– The capacity to discuss controversial topics intelligently
– Proficiency in analytical reasoning
– Practical use of digital technologies for various applications (writing, researching, graphic presentation)

And much more.

See
http://www.humanities.uci.edu/womensstudies/undergraduate/ws_degree.php

It’s all there in black and white.

ch
Guest
ch

It’s worse that this, JB.
Your degree and certification/registration are just entry criteria. I was explaining to a young woman today that to get to the next level — to succeed, make partnership, start that business or practice you have to put in well over 70 hours a week consistently for a decade or so.

Then you can slow down to around 50 h a week. Many women just don’t want that, and prefer to be at home with the kids (As a solo Dad, I don’t blame them) and the men, who are still putting in the hours… make partner, get tenure, start the business.

Now, women, when the kids have gone and they wanna succeed have to put in the same decade of fracking long hours.

There is no shortcut. The alternative is supporting a spouse who has done those hours, or accepting that you will live more modestly and in a more human condition.

But it ain’t sexism. It is the price of competence, which is not a degree.

feeriker
Guest
feeriker

>Your degree and certification/registration are just entry criteria.

Exactly, and in many cases they’re not even particularly valuable entry criteria. I find it both hilarious and horrifying that in the industry in which I work (IT/IT security), degrees and certifications are seen to confer upon the holder an almost god-like status of omnipotent professional invincibility. The funny thing is, I know (and endure as “managers”) far too people with advanced degrees and technical certifications who can’t blow their own noses without someone reading them step-by-step instructions on how to do it, but I’ve also interviewed (and eventually persuaded the aforementioned “managers” to hire) people without degrees or certifications who are absolute masters at advanced technical skills.

In my own case, my bachelor’s degree is in a discipline (business administration) that has very little to do with my current field (IT security). Yet over the course of a decade and a half, I’ve gained enough real-world experience in my field (plus a certification that can only be obtained after at least five years of practice in the field) that has convinced my customers, peers, and superiors that I’m the best at what I do.

I think my own example (and it’s FAR from unique, IME) serves as an excellent argument for why degrees should be separated from jobs in many fields. There is simply no real, meaningful correlation between the two.

Oh, and I also get a laugh out of the whiny shrieks of “but a college degree is your ticket to success!” coming from people who’ve wasted many years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially on post-graduate degrees, only to realize that it was indeed wasted time, money, and effort that got them essentially nowhere in the working world. They’re in “misery loves company” mode when they say this.

Dire Badger
Guest
Dire Badger

actually ‘degrees’ only show one thing: that you are successful at navigating the politically loaded education system.

If you want real measures of ability in particular fields, you have to look at the rates of certification. Certification is based upon knowledge and actual ability. Not entirely (of course) since accomplishment is not a certification metric, but it goes a long way towards determining who is actually qualified and capable.

Most certification demographics are very specifically NOT divided up by sexual metrics, because actual analysis of certification among companies such as comptiia, who specialise in verifiable certification for employable documentation, would show a rather remarked increase in non-collegiate certification that is almost overwhelmingly male.

Unfortunately, research into this particular process by sexual demographics would uphold a most un-pc fact about the sexual distribution of saleable skills.

And attributing this to a ‘glass ceiling’ would be utterly unsupportable, as these certification methods have NO personality input whatsoever. They are affordable by even the most impoverished demographic (A+ certification costs 79 dollars, and is one of many stepping stones to the insanely profitable CCNA and CCNE certifications) and the testing and scoring methodology are as sexually-neutral as it is possible to be, with computerized scoring to ensure that at no time do administrators have any input into the certification process.

Exactly how many female CCNE’s have you met? In my entire time among network engineers, I have never actually met even one female CCNE. I am sure that there must be one out there, but it is a lot like looking for the metaphorical needle in a haystack…. in a program that has absolutely NO sexual barriers whatsoever, with literally the highest potential earnings among the non-executive set by an order of magnitude, (Many CCNE’s make considerably more, for far less actual labor, than your mid-sized corporate CEO) NO college degree and minimal cash outlay (all told, you will spend approximately 12K for the testing process) NO study material costs (all study resources are publicly available for free, as are listings of what areas of expertise will be required) NO ‘club’ or social contacts required, NO ‘dirty hands’ jobs at all, why is it that there is absolutely NO female presence whatsoever?

I mean, yes, it is HARD, but come on… Men and women are equal, right? simply because it requires intelligence in the upper ten percentile and an enormous amount of self-motivated study and research, is no actual barrier to women, right? It’s not about upper body strength, or endurance, there is nothing physical about it at all (although it will require interacting intelligently with geeks).

CCNE- cisco-certified network Engineer. essentially an advisory and engineering certification allowing you to design large computer networks for corporate and industrial applications.

Frankly, the whole concept of equality sickens me. ‘interdependent’, absolutely, but saying men and women are even remotely equal is like saying bees and flowers are equal.

Wallace Black
Guest
Wallace Black

Here’s the thing, whenever women aren’t represented in a particular place, whether it’s tech or engineering or computers, feminists cry foul and go ‘THERE MUST BE SOME EVIL MISOGYNISTS AT WORK HERE, WHERE ARE TEH WYMMYNS?’ when the explanation is simply “they aren’t interested”. That’s never a good enough explanation, they have to vilify the dudes in the group and try to weasel out some blame. If there aren’t any women, it’s our fault. The dudes. The patriarchy. Whatever. Then they’ll cite anecdotes.

I’ve heard some women go “we don’t want to be around awkward nerd guys” as a reason for not wanting to join engineering courses. There’s also “societal perception and pressure”. Well the lot of us awkward nerd guys didn’t give a shit about perception or societal pressure and just did what we loved, which is tech. Why can’t ladies if they loved it as much as we do?

Tytalus
Guest
Tytalus

JB I work for a university and I can tell you the biggest problem we have is that by and large, it’s not our fault we have skewed male/female ratios. The problem starts in elementary school, and by high school the majority of girls are prepared for university, and the majority of boys are not.

And this is not just a USA problem, it exists in pretty much the entire anglo-sphere. (I work in Canada.)

Janet Bloomfield
Guest
Janet Bloomfield

Prepared to do what, exactly?

That is the real problem.

Ray
Guest
Ray

“It’s only a problem when women are underrepresented. Gotcha! Gotta love equality!”

I totally agree with your point. Here in Britain there is a big push to get more women on boards of commercial enterprises but no move to get them more equally represented among the ranks of refuse collectors and grave diggers. I wonder why.

LostSailor
Guest
LostSailor

There’s also the problem of “credentialism”. Women (and many–too many–men) are of the firm belief that degree automatically equal intelligence. So, the more degrees and the more advanced degrees you have, the smarter and more intelligent you must be. She doesn’t have to have any actual accomplishments to her credit, as long as a woman has the degrees.

Of course, the type of degrees being pursued and awarded by each sex is interesting, though hardly surprising, but more interesting is the fact that between 1995 and 2001 (updates to the study I found are, alas, in “shutdown”) the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to men has kept pretty steady at around 525,000-530,000 while the number of bachelor’s degrees (and how long will be continue to call the degree a “bachelor’s? Want to start a pool?) awarded to women since then has increased from 559,000 in 1990 to 634,000 in 1995 and 712,000 in 2000. A trend which I’m sure has continued.

It’s not that women are more industrious or smarter, it’s that they’re attending college in increasing numbers and waltzing through easy courses in soft disciplines.

Combine that with rampant credentialism and we’re doomed. Doomed, I tell you…

Goober
Guest
Goober

Credentialism is absolutely a huge problem.

Some of the smartest, best guys I ever worked with had zero degrees after high school. One of the smartest, most successful businessmen I ever knew didn’t even have a high school diploma.

SKILL is what is important, not credential. That’s why if I look at credentials at all (assuming they aren’t prerequisite to the job) I look at certificates, not diplomas. If a guy went to welding school, he may or may not be able to weld. If he is a certified welder, you know – absolutely positively KNOW – that he can weld. A guy with an engineering degree may not even know which side of a set of plans goes face up, but a guy with an engineering stamp (Professional Engineer certification) knows how to build a building from the ground up and have it last 100 years, and you know that without ever even talking to him.

It reminds me of the “ring-tapper” problem in the military. You’ve got NCOs in the military that’ve been in combat for 10 continuous years now, and seen it all, being commanded by kids that just graduated from West Point last may, and have never been in combat.

I know which one of those two I’d listen to if I was there.

Marlo Rocci
Guest
Marlo Rocci

They’re constructing a new building near where I work. It’s cold and has been raining heavily. The work involves welding steel and walking on girders. Cranes are moving heavy steel girders that have to be manually guided to their final position by hand. There are about a hundred different ways being stupid on this site will get you killed.

Yep, all dudes.

Goober
Guest
Goober

In 12 years now of running major ($10 plus million dollar) commercial and institutional construction work, I’ve had a grand total of 3 women work for me in roles other than traffic flagging. One was an equipment operator, one was an apprentice carpenter, and one is (currently working for me) an earthwork laborer.

The equipment operator left my employment when she took a different job, paying less money, but which didn’t involve running large equipment around other men all day long. She confided in me that she was really stressed about hurting someone, and that’s why she left. I paid her $36 an hour while she worked for me, the same as the men on my crew doing the same job.

The apprentice carpenter washed out of the apprenticeship program after three months. She couldn’t hack it because she didn’t have the physical capabilities necessary to haul around concrete formwork, drive nails, and work in the heat and cold and wet and nasty conditions. She made $24 an hour as an apprentice, the same as the male apprentices on my project.

The earthwork laborer doesn’t work for me directly, she works for a subcontractor that I’ve hired. She is the sister of the guy who runs the business. She seems to be a pretty good worker, and gets her job done well and efficiently. I understand that she’s worked for him for about 5 years now. She is truly a unicorn in that sense.

In 12 years.

Men built the building that you are sitting in now. This “rah! Rah! The wimmins is just as good or better than the mens!” BS coming out of the feminist quarter totally ignores the fact that women need men just as much as men need women. Women don’t want to do these jobs. Men do them gladly.

We’re a team. We need each other, BECAUSE of our differences, not in spite of them.

Bob Wallace
Guest
Bob Wallace

I graduated from a large university that was the largest producers of teachers in a large state. All the teaching majors I met were women (except for one man I was friends with) and they were dumb. If there was a smart woman in that bunch I never met her.

Since that time I decided teaching degrees are worthless.

Anon
Guest
Anon

That’s because in certain States you can be a teacher without degrees in anything.

You pay your teachers shit, your administration robs the educators and students blind with their bloated unearned salaries and the unions protect the worthless ones. That’s why Americas educational system is shot.

Look at the countries with much better PISA scores. Teachers are better paid, they require degrees in what they actually teach, which should be obvious, and the standards are more rigorous.

Goober
Guest
Goober

I, too, have a general prejudice against education majors, because a huge portion of them that I met through my college years were pretty dim bulbs.

They didn’t question, they just took what they were told and passed it on. There wasn’t any brightness there, any drive to learn and understand, and I see this as being very problematic because to me, a teachers job is to instill a drive to learn, not to teach kids facts and figures. A kid instilled with a drive to learn won’t really need a teacher to spew facts at them in the interest of rote memorization to pass a test, because they’ll learn on their own, in their own way, because learning is fucking awesome. Other than reproduction, I’m of the opinion that learning is the most important thing that we are here to do.

These teachers teach to the curriculum, without ever realizing that the curriculum is a minimum requirement – the amount of things that the lowest common denominator class needs to know in order to move on. These teachers actually discipline children for learning too fast, because the curriculum says they should only know “X” and knowing more than “X” means that they aren’t meeting the curriculum (and before you take me to task for this, I was disciplined MULTIPLE times through my primary education for daring to go above and beyond the assigned work). They never push beyond any minimum requirement. They teach to the test, so the kids can move on and leave them alone, and it never even occurs to them that they are doing it wrong.

But there are also people like my mother, who is highly intelligent, with a masters degree in education and who has a drive to learn and know and teach and instill everything that she can to her 5th graders. She just retired after 20 some years of teaching (she stayed at home with my brother and I until I was 8). Her kids were lucky to have her.

This is why I think the current paradigm of “one teacher, one class” through most of primary education is fatally flawed. My mother worked alongside another 5th grade teacher that was the aforementioned dim bulb. The students in my mom’s school got a 50/50 chance of getting a minimum requirements education, or an exceptional education based on a random scramble in a computer at the beginning of the year.

It shouldn’t be that way. These kids should be exposed to more than one teaching style, more than one teacher, and more than one attitude in any given year, if for no other reason than to diffuse the impact that these dim bulbs have on kids.

Goober
Guest
Goober

Another point I meant to make but forgot was to point out that we also need to make a concerted effort to bring more men into the teaching realm. The best education that I got was from my male teachers. Not because the female teachers were inferior, but because I am a male, and I learn like a male learns. Male teachers teach like a male. Hence, I got a better education from them.

Also, male teachers bring a different perspective to teaching that all kids, male and female, need. Male teachers tend to be more unforgiving, less nurturing, have higher expectations and make the punishment for not meeting those expectations stick more soundly. It drives the kids under their tutelage to be better, more responsible people, and lose the idea that if they just bat their eyes and ask nice, that they’ll get an exception or an indulgence from teacher. It is good for them.

Consider this example.

Two swim instructors, two different classes of the same aged kids from the same school. One instructor male, the other female.

The male taught the kids to swim by essentially tossing them into the deep end and making them learn. The female started by making them feel comfortable with water in the faces by having them splash water in their faces out of a nearby drinking fountain. And so it went for the reaminder of the day. By the end of the first week, the kids in the female’s class were dunking their heads under water and holding their breath in the shallow end, looking like they were doing some sort of interpretive dance or something. The boys in the class were bored out of their minds, and any time the instructor stopped looking, they’d start horseplaying around, splashing and jumping about.

By the end of the same week, the kids in the male instructors class were practicing the 100 individual medley, which involves swimming the entire length of an Olympic sized swimming pool 4 times, each time using a different swim stroke (breast, back, butterfly, and freestyle).

The kids in the female’s class were nurtured into a feeling of comfort in the water. The kids in the male instructor’s class were told that they had nothing to fear of the water, and had that proven to them by jumping into it and starting to SWIM.

Both classes eventually learned to swim. Neither class had an advantage over the other at the end of the course. But class 1 could have completed the entire curriculum in a week, while class 2 needed the entire month, and class 2 involved massive amounts of boredom and inattention on the part of a good part of the class.