One of the things I look at with a pretty jaundiced eye are school teachers.
The various states require different levels of education (a bachelor's degree is generally considered the minimum) before they will issue someone a teaching certificate and there are all sorts of special little courses someone has to have to be issued one.
That is a crock the way I see it.
I am pretty certain that some of the best teachers I have ever had over the years have had nothing more than high school diplomas and probably a couple had not even finished high school before they started teaching.
Most of these were in the army, but not all of them. I've had several courses over the years that were taught by people with no teaching degree and they did a wonderful job of teaching me their subject.
I have taken a couple of seamanship and fire fighting courses over the years, both of which were taught by people with hands-on experience in their fields. These guys knew what they were talking about because they had considerable experience in their fields, yet few if any of them had ever seen the inside of a college classroom.
One of the things you have to like about the army is the pragmatism. When they go looking for a teacher they generally grab a bright NCO with a lot of experience in his field. They may or may not run him through a crash course on teaching and stick him in front of a classroom.
Of course, I have never heard the NEA gripe about this terrible injustice to our soldiers and I doubt that I will because the NEA will probably come out of it with egg on their face when they get it thrown in their face how successful military schools are.
Basic training is a school and they take a kid off the streets and turn him into a soldier, sailor, airman of Marine in anywhere between 8 to 13 weeks and the change stays with them for life. Don't even try and tell me that a drill NCO isn't a teacher. They are probably some of the best teachers in the world, but let's go beyond basic training.
From basic the newly found military student heads on out to his job training and inside a period of about a month or so to six months a student graduates and is a pretty good entry level whatever his job is going to be.
It sure does not take long after the new graduate breaks in and becomes an integral part of a well-oiled team.
In many cases, about a year after a youngster arrives at basic training they find themselves in a position of real responsibility. Look at some of the young people working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. They are responsible for some aspect of a multi-million dollar airplane.
In most cases their civilian counterpart that went from high school to get a degree will enter the corporate work force and find himself responsible for making coffee and running the copier for the first couple of years he is out of school.
The schools are no frills basic job related and because there is discipline instilled the young students learn fast and either pass the course or are dropped and wind up spending the rest of theirhitch generally doing something else. Generally it is not pleasant.
It should be carefully noted that most of the teachers do not have a degree in anything much less teaching.
There are a lot of private sector schools out there that are run similarly.
The requirements to teach in these schools are generally on the job experience and a willingness to teach. They are, for the most part, pretty good schools.
A teacher brings into the classroom a sum total of their lives.
As a kid there were quite a number of male teachers that had served in WW2 and most of them brought an awful lot of life experience with them to the classroom. They also knew how to keep a youngster's attention.
Looking back on it, the teachers that had the least to offer were for the most part the younger ones that had graduated from high school, gone to the local state teacher's college and returned to teach in either the town's school they graduated from or from the school a couple of towns away. Most of these were simply idealistic women that had nothing but a suburban background.
They had little going for them, yet in many cases their credentials were impeccable.
I can think of a of teachers that really stay in my mind after all of these years. Most of these were men, but there was one young idealistic woman that kept me after school and hammered high school Spanish into my head. She worked at it with a passion and I will always give her credit for that.
My most memorable teacher was my army drill sergeant. He turned me into a pretty good soldier in short oorder. I believe he had only high school.
There were a few others. A shipboard fire fighting teacher that was a retired gruff old smoke eater taught me one thing I will never forget. He told the class that if we ever have to fight a shipboard fire that we WERE going to get hurt fighting it and probably get killed if we didn't.
Over coffee after class he told me that safety equipment really didn't prevent injuries, it did minimize the inevitible injuries that fighting a fire at sea would cause us to suffer.
That has stuck with me for two decades.
I tell the newer guys that all the time.
Of course, the NEA and other teachers unions will tell you that teaching is so special and that it takes someone special and so on, but that is nothing more than a smoke screen to protect their jobs and milk money out of the public.
Some of the best teachers out there have never even finished high school.
While I do not think for a minute that having a degree to teach basic academics in public schools should not be a requirement, I do think that a person that has one should be required to do something else in the real world for five years before they are eligible for hire.
At least that way they will have something to bring into the classroom with them.
This piece may sound like I am against college degrees. I am not. Had I known that I would have ended up where I am, I would have gotten a degree from either King's Point or one of the state merchant marine academies.
While the degree would not really have changed much I suppose it would have given me a little more confidence and just been nice to have. It would have also given me something to fall back on and take an office job if bad health or injury took me from working out here.
What I do have is that I wonder where school teachers get off thinking they have a monopoly of the world's know-how.
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