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Education Official Says Bad Teachers Can Be Good For Students 279

Posted by samzenpus
from the hiring-on-a-curve dept.
Zenna Atkins, the chairman of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), has raised some eyebrows by saying that, "every school should have a useless teacher." She stresses that schools shouldn't seek out or tolerate bad teaching, but thinks bad teachers provide a valuable life-lesson. From the article: "... on Sunday Ms Atkins told the BBC that schools needed to reflect society, especially at primary level. 'In society there are people you don't like, there are people who are incompetent and there are often people above you in authority who you think are incompetent, and learning that ability to deal with that and, actually surviving that environment can be an advantage.'"

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Education Official Says Bad Teachers Can Be Good For Students

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  • I take it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:01PM (#32878898) Homepage
    we havent given close scrutiny to things like creation science lately. Im fairly certain one shit teacher can do more to screw up a generation than an entire school of laureate PHDs.
    • by rickb928 (945187)

      If one teacher can screw up an entire generation, that's one heck of a teacher!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "Im fairly certain one shit teacher can do more to screw up a generation than an entire school of laureate PHDs."

      Bad teachers teach the useful lessons of contempt for the system, resentment of bad authority, and how to route around people who deserve to be deceived and manipulated.

      • by severoon (536737) on Monday July 12, 2010 @06:39PM (#32880214) Journal

        Often, I find that one can evaluate the sense of a statement by taking it to its natural limit. So, if the occasional bad teacher can be good for students, then the occasional worst possible teacher should be great for the students, like a pedophile.

        Limit[thisStupidStatement[x], x -> Infinity] = CatholicSchool

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
          A paedophile may be an excellent teacher. Not saying we should put child molesters in schools, just saying that those two statements aren't mutually exclusive.

          Considering the last line of your comment, I'd have thought you'd pick up on that.
    • Re:I take it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445) on Monday July 12, 2010 @09:56PM (#32882132) Homepage

      Forget your creationist strawman. That's hardly the big issue here.

      The problem is that we've got such a "wealth" (glut is maybe a better word) of horrible teachers in America that the good ones are few and far between these days. The good teachers are being held down and pushed out by a bureaucratic system that is keen on top-down control. Top-down control mechanisms don't work so well; in fact, they scale very poorly, so they must exert what the controlling "educators" see as "best practices" upon the stupid, peon teachers.

      Of course, these teachers are only stupid because of the system. While the pay for teachers is pretty poor these days (particularly compared to even 20 years ago) despite year after year of increased educational tax spending, this isn't the core issue. The core issue is that they have "set the standard so high" - ie, shoveled piles of bureaucratic shit on top of anyone wanting to become a teacher - that only the most insipid, functionally useless people actually make it through. You know the type: the dumb-as-rocks B-average student who spends their every night doing homework.

      Aside from these toilet bowl gems, there are a scant few, noble souls who push through the mire to actually teach, whether for belief in the mission or the system itself. There aren't many of them, and they do their best, but their far in the minority. All the while, many who would teach are dissuaded from even attempting it by the reams of stupidity-masquerading-as-officialdom. The low pay is only icing on the cake (and a convenient, frequent excuse to ask for more funding to further bloat their bureaucracy without any accountability or results).

      After we fix these existential issues, then you (and I) can start bitching about these smokescreen problems. Seriously: if children are educated well, they will be able to see the poorly clad arguments, misdirection, and outright avoidance of poorly conceived dogma. Basic logic (both linguistic and mathematic), critical thinking, and introspection should be the main things taught in early schooling - but they're not. If they were, this wouldn't be such a problem.

      Note: I once thought, briefly, about becoming a high school teacher. I'm very good at it, and am able to make it entertaining in the process (yes, for all ages - I still have people comment on technical presentations I did 5 years ago). I didn't do it once I read about all the "soft words" (ie verging on doublespeak) teachers were required to learn and understand, and how foolish the training for teachers is. Do you realize how quickly I (or, probably, your average adult-and-fit-for-public slashdotter) would be kicked from a school due to internal "politics" alone? Thinking outside the box is a felony in today's schools.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:03PM (#32878916)
    FTFA: Zenna Atkins, stressing these were her personal views, earlier told the Sunday Times...
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      If her personal views were racists, would that be ok then? People's "personal views" filter into their work, you can't 100% separate the two anymore than a pothead can fly commercial airplanes.

      "'In society there are people you don't like, there are people who are incompetent and there are often people above you in authority who you think are incompetent, and learning that ability to deal with that and, actually surviving that environment can be an advantage.'""

      The problem I have with this statement i
  • OJT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:03PM (#32878928) Homepage Journal

    I think that's a lesson better reserved for on the job training. Any kid who has a crappy minimum wage job during school, or shortly thereafter, will learn it quickly enough.

    • by copponex (13876)

      Sadly your boss at your crappy minimum wage job is probably earning more than your teacher. Less than average pay, less than average teachers, less than average education.

      I'll bet half the reason public schools in wealthy areas do so much better is not because the parents give more of a shit, but because it's more likely that the teachers want to live in that area. That, and it's easier to concentrate when you're not worrying about how to make ends meet before you're legally allowed to drive.

      • by migla (1099771)

        Good point. Notice the word "half".

        There is not much in favour of a kid growing up in a "bad" neighbourhood. Here in sweden,m there is one thing, though: Only in a "bad " neighbourhood (our"bad neighbourhoods aren't as bad as the ones in the US. No gang killings and such, yet) a kid can experience cultural diversity. "Good" neighbourhoods are packed with white uptight ... "blind" people. So far, I think our "bad" neighbourhood is a better place for a human being that a "good" neighbourhood. When the human

        • by xaxa (988988)

          In the UK that completely depends where you are. Large towns are very, very mixed. There are perhaps more barriers between social class than between race in such places -- you're more likely to hear slightly derogatory terms like "chav", "toff" or "yummy mummy".

          I went to a private school (parents paid), and a third of the class wasn't white-British. Granted, this was in one of the "least white" large cities in the UK (not London). Most of the parents were probably "normality junkies", but skin colour was ir

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Teachers don't like crap schools (in crap areas) because there's less satisfaction in the job, and more pointless stress (from dealing with badly behaved children). Parents in crap areas don't care if their children fail at school (after all, they failed school and they're 'OK'), so they don't encourage their children to succeed at school.

        The teachers I know wouldn't choose to live near their school -- they'd rather not see the children they teach in social situations. But that might be because they teach a

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      I will say I did learn something reasonably valuable from bad teachers, which was don't trust authority to do the right thing or tell the truth, especially when questioned. By high school, I knew how to ignore, work around, go above, and end the career of bad teachers, which has served me well in my professional life.

  • Not real life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:04PM (#32878936)

    In real life, if things are bad enough in a job you can leave.

    A kid can't leave a classroom no matter how much the teacher sucks, unless the parents are really well off. But even then the parents have to decide to take the kid out, and the parents may have no idea how bad things really are.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Also, at least in certain grades kids are not that interested. In the early classes we would likely have slacked, in the latter classes we'd be pissed that we weren't getting the help we needed to get into good schools or good jobs. There's plenty injustice to go around so you don't need to ignore it, excuse it or accept it.

    • Re:Not real life (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:24PM (#32879200) Journal

      Exactly. And dealing with a bad teacher is NOT real life training for dealing with a bad boss.

      In School, if you correct a teacher about something, if they're a bad teacher, they will tell you that you are wrong and that they are right to save themselves the embarassment. When I was in 7th Grade French Class (being Canadian, learning french is often encouraged), one student was utterly harassed by our teacher for saying things differently. This student happened to have French parents from France where the teacher was born and raised in Quebec, the big French speaking province of Canada. The differences in the language are about as much as you'd expect from Southern States English and The United Kingdom Queen's English. After 2 parent teacher interviews, the student was pulled from the class by their parents, and the French teacher still holds that job to this day, never having gotten a reprimand. I might also point out that after 3 years with this French teacher, I only know how to count to 29 and can barely decipher any french text I come across for some semblance of meaning. To be honest though I never had much interest in learning French, either way, I hated that teacher.

      Also, my Girlfriend has an English Prof at the university who believes that no student could ever earn an A+, only English majors could earn an A-, and any other student could only get a B+ as their best grade. My girlfriend, a history major and being 0.02 Grade points from making the deans list (which I think was like a 3.8 or something GPA), was very upset to learn this. Her last paper, which earned a B-, had no writing on it to suggest any feedback or errors. It was also editted by 5 English Majors and 2 other friends of hers, so she was pretty confident this would be the booster to her grade. She went on to Appeal her grade which was bumped up to a B+ (thus making the deans list), though there was still no explanation why she didn't garner an A. *** Luckily this university offers students a chance at the end of the year to evaluate the teacher. As far as I know, everyone has given a poor review and are praying they get fired.

      As for "Real Life" in the working world? I have found a boss finds the "No" man 5 times more valuable than a "yes" man. If my boss proposes something I don't like, and I tell him why, he has a chance to reconsider, or defend his point by discussing things I might have missed. This is the mark of a good employee - not one that sits there and goes "Yes sir right away sir" everytime an order is barked at them. The School system should NOT be pumping out mindless drones. If there is any reason to have a bad teacher, it's to teach kids to stand up for themselves when they know they are right.

      *** As a side note, apparently this teacher didn't show up for 3 classes (without a note or explanation as to why they were absent), and for 2 of them, the prof put on a movie and left.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Garridan (597129)

        I got bad grades in math through high school, not for lack of decent teachers. But, the experience left me with the notion that I was bad at math. In reality, I was bad at doing homework. Almost ten years later, I went back to school and ended up in a precalculus class with an abysmal teacher. She made mistakes and got angry at people who corrected her, she insisted that she was right in the face of irrefutable evidence. So, I got angry and sought to prove her wrong. I relentlessly toiled over my home

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by socz (1057222)
        Ahh see, you are wrong after all...


        My managers have told me "In our company, when we give you a 5 for your assessment that really means it's a 10. Because if I was to give you a 10, then you should be doing my job. If my boss was to give me a 10, then I should be doing my boss' job. You understand what I'm saying?"

        And yeah, I'm serious! That's what they've told me (they = more than 1 manager I've had in this company). It's very sad.

        And then in college, I asked a history teacher about the dates of
      • Re:Not real life (Score:4, Interesting)

        by socz (1057222) <.socrates. .at. .ghettobsd.org.> on Monday July 12, 2010 @06:05PM (#32879776) Homepage Journal
        Oh and one more thing... I got kicked out of "Foreign Language Class" because, according to the teacher: "I was intimidating the other students." What that really means is that I apparently was 'more fluent' than the teacher and was intimidating her, so it was easier for her to give me the boot than have the rest of the kids be like this teacher sucks.

        As you can imagine, I had GREAT!!!!!!!! experiences in school!
      • Years back I hired a day laborer to help me with a concrete pad I was having him pour. He knew some broken English. I knew little about pouring concrete.

        When I asked him to do the job he said in broken English "Senior, I think..... no. I know, yes I know, I must have a long... how do you say?... woods for these job". He was trying to tell me he needed a long 2x4 or some such to flat-scrape the small pad. Which was of course correct, but I really hadn't thought about it.

        Good employee. I hired him again and

      • Honestly, I think people should not be able to earn an A+ unless they do extra credit. Too many universities and colleges have professors that give too lenient of grades and it makes people begin to expect it. In the case of your Girlfriend, I guess the point is she had other people edit it and didn't actually do it all herself. I suppose an English major would be more likely to know how they need to edit it to make it "perfect". That being said, her professors logic is off. Just because someone is not an E
        • I was in the room when she wrote it out by hand with over a dozen textbooks circled around her, only to have her hand it to me to type it up (simply because my words per minute are far higher than hers) - and she had all those people edit it BECAUSE she got a paper back before with a C grade - no feedback, and she didn't know what was wrong and the prof wouldn't tell her when she asked.

          When it comes to university, there is no "extra credit". You can't hand it more work or any kind of bonus material to boost

      • Although I'll believe you when you say that the French teacher was bad, teaching students to speak like Parisians would hardly have been useful to them. And your girlfriend didn't seem to understand humanities where 100% can indeed be impossible (if you were that good you wouldn't be in college, you would be writing books), and while hard work can get you a B, usually you need to display some sort of creativity and/or virtuosity to get an A. Having 7 people edit her paper was also cheating unless she disclo
        • Teaching students to speak like Parisians would hardly have been useful to them.

          Yes, but it's not that she was didn't want to teach us parisian, it's that she singled out a student who KNEW perfect fluent parisian french, when the rest of us are barely capable of pronouncing the words. The student wasn't event correcting the teacher, because they knew there was a difference, but because the student was already so fluent in parisian french, it just didn't come natural to speak it the other way. And anytime the student slipped up, the teacher made an extra effort to point it out.

          Having 7 people edit her paper was also cheating unless she disclosed it, in which case I wouldn't blame the professor for not taking her too seriously

          No, edit

        • And your girlfriend didn't seem to understand humanities where 100% can indeed be impossible

          I've never understood the point of a grading scale with one end so high that it is considered to be unattainable. Every time I encounter the concept it reminds me of the "this amp goes to 11" scene, but in reverse--and every bit as absurd.

      • Re:Not real life (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday July 12, 2010 @07:15PM (#32880682) Journal

        As for "Real Life" in the working world? I have found a boss finds the "No" man 5 times more valuable than a "yes" man.

        Then you've been pretty lucky. I've had plenty of horrible bosses who could not improve themselves and set aside their hangups no matter how bad things were going. They tend to have this world view that people are by nature lazy fucks who must be motivated by threats and fear. Even when faced with disaster, knowing that a particular direction or action would get us all fired, they couldn't help themselves and did it anyway because that was what they knew. Some uppity minion's idea threatening to make the boss look stupid? Squelch it! The idea is so good it might save the situation? Squelch it anyway! Any minion that dares say "no" is fired immediately. Snow job not working? Try a bigger, better, faster snow job! Ragging on the engineers and scientists not getting results? Rag on them harder! "The beatings will continue until morale improves." Demand heroic work hours, give them crap about how everything is all their fault and scream about what idiots they are for being unable to realize the boss's glorious visions, mete out punishments that take the best minds away from crucial work to do drudgery (wouldn't do for them to show up the boss, and such a move heads that off under the pretext of punishment, and if the punishment also involves denying them some pay over a technicality, even better), threaten to fire them all, etc. Of course none of that ultimately worked. You might think everyone would just walk if it was that bad, but until you've been in that situation, it's hard to appreciate just how very hard it is to walk away from a paycheck. A few do walk, but most stay on until very close to the end.

        dealing with a bad teacher is NOT real life training for dealing with a bad boss.

        Too right! Saw plenty of bad teachers, but the worst were pikers compared to bad bosses under intense pressure. Teachers don't have the same power. By firing people, a boss could set in motion a chain of events that end in ex-employees losing their cars, houses, and marriages, not to mention their credit ratings. And the bosses know that, and make sure the minions fully appreciate that too, the better to terrorize them into doing their "best". In those cases where they don't have a hold like that, they'll try to get one by bullying or sweet talking the employee into being an idiot and giving them just such a hold, all the while overlooking the inherent contradiction in wanting idiot behavior on something like that, but super genius brilliance in pursuit of the narrowly defined directions desired. No mere teacher can do that to a student.

    • Workplace rules, or union rules, getting rid of them is more costly than letting you suffer with them

    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      That reminds me of my 8th grade algebra teacher, Ms. Thomas. She established the class based on memorization and required her students to complete hundreds of nearly identical problems on a daily basis. It was horrible, I couldn't learn anything. So I asked my mom to request a different class for me.

      Before I could leave I had to sit down with the Assistant Principal and the teacher to explain why I wanted to transfer. Ultimately they told me that I was hurting her feelings for wanting to leave and that

  • WTH (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sabs (255763)

    Is this person just mentally retarded?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by idries (174087)

      Nah... she just had a bad teacher.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vell0cet (1055494)
        Nah... she's just THE bad teacher that she's talking about.
        • by iamhassi (659463)
          so she was caught doing something, and now she's going to the press to explain why she shouldn't lose her job, but making it sound like a press release.

          This is brilliant! "Don't fire me, use me as an example to show other people what not to do."
        • by xaxa (988988)

          Seen on the noticeboard in the staff room at a school:
          "Failed teachers become PE teachers.
          Failed PE teachers become OFSTED inspectors."

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:07PM (#32878972)
    I just got the image of a skit in my head where a student keeps complaining to his principal (or headmaster, I suppose) about increasingly awful things, only to be told that this will build character since "you encounter it in real life." The last visit will be the student coming to the principal saying "There is a crazy man with a gun entering the school," to which the principal responds "Well, there are crazy men with guns in real life too, so you'll just have to accept it."
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      That's sort of what I was thinking, except minus the comedy bit. The same argument could be made for a lot of horrible things, e.g. it's good for boys to get beaten and girls to get molested because there are scumbags out there who would try to do that to them when they're adults. The argument for bad teachers is a specious argument, as the logical extension of such an argument readily demonstrates.

      The fact of the matter is that kids already deal with plenty of people who are incompetent and hard to get a

      • by Velex (120469)

        e.g. it's good for boys to get beaten and girls to get molested because there are scumbags out there who would try to do that to them when they're adults.

        Oddly, when I was in middle school (early 90s), that applied to boys, e.g. "He stole your lunch and knocks your books out of your hands in the hall. Live with it. It's part of being a boy" was something I was literally told. Of course, if I would have decked him like I wanted to (and should have in hindsight) I would have had a few detentions.

        Yet for some reason the same didn't apply to girls. e.g., no one would dare tell an adolescent young woman that some injustice is just part of being a woman.

        Th

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Then on the other, other hand there was this one teacher who had a question on a test "What makes things stay on the ground?" My little brother answered "gravity" and was promptly graded wrong. Upon inquiry, we discovered that the correct answer was air pressure. C'est la vie.

          Wow. Just... wow. I hope your little brother pointed out that air pressure on the shuttle is the same as air pressure on Earth, give or take, yet strangely enough, things float around quite nicely. :-)

  • by wandazulu (265281) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:07PM (#32878976)

    ...as long as the bad teacher isn't the metal/wood shop teacher or driving instructor.

    • by shermo (1284310)

      You learn to drive in school? (serious question)

      • by cosm (1072588)
        Many schools here in the United States offer drivers-ed classes, on a per-semester basis. One part of the class is in a desk, memorizing "Rules of the Road", the other is a series of driving sessions and eventually a test with the instructor. This is how it worked when I lived in Illinois, you received your permit from the high-school, and once you turned 16 you could go to the DMV and apply/test (again) for a license.
      • Yes and no in Canada. We have a drivers education program which you can enter at 15 and a half. Generally this course is taught through a school, as it is where you go to reach students of that age. The person teaching the course will not likely be a teacher per se, but will be a qualified drivers education instructor.

      • by compro01 (777531)

        I did here in Canada. Theoretical classes at lunch hour for a couple weeks (20 hours) followed by a written test to get the learner permit, then followed by practical driving (6 hours) during class hours.

      • by Altus (1034)

        Where I'm from the drivers ed class is held at the school and I think organized by the school but it is a private company and you have to pay for the lessons. It is also held after hours (with driving time usually right after classes end). Of course here, drivers ed is not required to get your license, you simply have to pass the test. Drivers ed allows you to take the test 6 months earlier than if you didn't take the course and it gives a small benefit on your insurance as well.

        I'm sure it varies a lot

        • by xaxa (988988)

          In the UK its nothing to do with school.

          You apply for a provisional license, the earliest you can get this is your 17th birthday. Then you can either take lessons with a driving instructor (most are very small companies/franchises), or with someone over 21 who's had a license for over three years (e.g. parent). Lessons are expensive, but the insurance for a learner driver is even more -- over a thousand pounds for a 17yo in the kind of car Americans would laugh at.

          I haven't learnt to drive, and I'm 24. I th

  • by easterberry (1826250) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:11PM (#32879018)
    Grade 9 computers. Kept trying to tell me that the CPU was the entire computer. I almost got detention a few times for refusing to back down on my stance that, no, in fact, it is not. I suppose I learned to check my teachers ahead of time so I could avoid having her again but if it weren't for me and my friend who also knew the first thing about computers the entire class would have been taught that a CPU and a PC were synonyms.
    • by vlm (69642)

      Kept trying to tell me that the CPU was the entire computer.

      Duh, like everyone knows that big box with the retractable cup holder in it is called the "hard drive". Even if its got a SSD in it. As if they'd know what a SSD is.

      Then there's the old timers whom always called terminals "tubes" and even to this day call LCD displays "tubes".

      • by Itninja (937614)
        Kinda like how 'comic books' rarely are funny. Just wait...it'll happen to you too. One day iPods to go away but you will still call portable music players iPods. Or mobile phones will become entirely satellite driven but you'll still call them cell phones ;P
    • by bynary (827120) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:46PM (#32879504) Homepage
      The customers that threw me for a loop were the ones that insisted on calling the entire computer a "modem." As in the following example:

      Customer: I need to buy a new modem.
      Me: All right. Who's your ISP?
      Customer: (blank stare) Do I need to buy the monitor separately?
      Me: (blank stare)
      Customer: It keeps saying that I'm running out of memory.
      Me: (light comes on) Let me show you some of the computers we have in stock.
    • I'd say both usages are common enough that either definition is valid.

      In my opinion, anyone claiming that exactly one of those two definitions is the correct one, was wrong.

    • by IICV (652597)

      Man, what a synecdouche.

      (Because I'm afraid that sentence will be too short to get past the lameness filter, here's [wikipedia.org] some clarification)

    • by PitaBred (632671)

      Half of the problem there is that the school probably reassigned her to computers because she was the most skilled in them of all the teachers. No, I'm not kidding.

      And then she has to keep her authority in class. How does she do what with some smart-ass kid telling her she's wrong? So of course her gut instinct is to try to shut you down. And because she can't be seen as weak and doesn't have the information to actually know the answer, she simply uses her authority to "overrule" you.

      The other half was that

  • by happy_place (632005) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:11PM (#32879034) Homepage
    My daughter had a bad English teacher this year. She was a disorganized mess, who lost most of the assignments, did no follow up, placed random weights on assigned grades, and unlike ALL other teachers she had this year, NEVER had midterm grades ready for Parent-Teacher conferences. She used the excuse that she was working on her advanced degrees, and didn't have a lot of time to spare this year. We moved to this school district and believed her. Come to find out she's one of those teachers the veteran parents of kids know to avoid. Up to this year, my daughter was gung-ho about writing, now she claims to hate it. She used to enjoy discussing literature, now she only reads what's safe. I've got a lot of un-teaching to do, as a result. Perhaps there's a valuable life lesson burried under the pile of lost assignments this teacher never graded, but I'm not putting up with this sort of walking trainwreck of a teacher ever again. All in all, this is what comes of professional educators attempting to rationalize mediocrity. It's all theoretical, and no one is ever affected because it's safely academic.
  • by Millennium (2451) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:12PM (#32879040) Homepage

    The teacher does have a point, in that bad teachers can indeed provide a valuable lesson. The problem is, they're supposed to be teaching something else, and that subject suffers even while students get this other type of learning. I find the idea that this is a worthwhile trade to be questionable at best.

  • by vlm (69642)

    'In society there are people you don't like, there are people who are incompetent and there are often people above you in authority who you think are incompetent, and learning that ability to deal with that and, actually surviving that environment can be an advantage

    You're assuming he's talking about teachers?

    Isn't his description remarkably similar to the stereotypical teenager view of their parents? At least occasionally when they're arguing?

    So, thats a great experience for the parents that are wrapped around their kids finger and/or want to be their kids best friend or parent, but a waste for all the other kids with "normal" parent / teen relationships.

    Another issue is all posts, so far, assume he means incompetence on an absolute scale. However, even if your staf

  • Irony (Score:3, Funny)

    by Manip (656104) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:13PM (#32879054)

    She was being ironic.

  • Ms Atkins had told the paper that schools should not try to get rid of every inadequate teacher.

    ...

    She added she believed it was the responsibility of each school to weed out bad teachers.

    Perhaps Ms. Atkins could have used better teachers, or at the very least, better meds.

  • if you're a fuck up...there's a place in education for you, too? "See Johnny? Mr. Dumbass is a good example. We're not judgemental...if you can fog a mirror...there's a place for you at our school!"

    Is that the message they're trying to send?

  • by mooingyak (720677) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:18PM (#32879120)

    I like it.

  • What does it say about Zenna Atkins' supervisors if she thinks students should learn to live with incompetent bosses instead of the smart move: finding employment outside the reach of the incompetents.

  • I disagree... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clong83 (1468431) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:26PM (#32879220)
    This person clearly doesn't know what it's like to be on the brunt end of a truly terrible teacher/authority figure and have no power. I got a BUNCH of rejection letters from colleges in late January/early February due to "Incomplete applications". In short, the high school had never sent my transcripts/secondary school report to any of the universities I applied to. I only got into one school, and it was the school where I had forged the secondary school report myself. (I was truthful, and I at that point I had my suspicions about the guidance office doing their job...)

    I had a guidance counselor tell me to "cry her a river" when I told her taking night classes at a local college and a full schedule at high school and working two jobs was too much for me, and I wanted to only go to high school only half day (a program fully supported by the school district, or at least supposedly so...) This is to say nothing of the quality of some of the teachers and classes I had to take. The school did everything they could to sabotage my academic career at every turn. I found out some years later after some academic success that they have been using my name as an example of the caliber of student that they could produce. Did I learn some sort of life lesson? I guess so. But it wasn't worth it, and I wouldn't wish that kind of nonsense on anyone. It was years ago, but my blood still boils thinking about it.
    • I had a guidance counselor tell me to "cry her a river" when I told her taking night classes at a local college and a full schedule at high school and working two jobs was too much for me, and I wanted to only go to high school only half day (a program fully supported by the school district, or at least supposedly so...)

      The correct response is to say "alright" and burst into uncontrollable floods of tears. The more manly you are the rest of the time, the better.

    • I had a teacher in high school who taught AP World History. Even though I graduated with honors, and took every advanced class I could, I never could get a good grade in her course. She graded me very harshly, and only the girls seemed to get good marks. I anyone complained she always said something to the effect "You think that my class is hard? Well, college will be much harder than that if you decide to try to get in!". She always made college sound like the hardest experience one could ever attempt, and
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The only thing the crappy teacher taught me was that I didn't want to be a teacher.

      I would have rather learned History from her, frankly.

  • Every government department should have a useless official.
  • And by the same extension, we shouldn't yank the licenses of bad drivers, because should learn to drive down the road even if there is a maniac who drives at 90mph while applying makeup and talking on a cell phone.

    School, for better and for worse, is nothing like working life. A student is pretty much stuck in the class he or she is assigned to, cannot simply quit even if a bad teacher makes the experience, and the necessary education, impossible.

    Bad teachers should be removed just like bad accountants, ba

  • is this the same person who said 'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it. [wikipedia.org]'??
  • It might be good for every school to have one useless teacher, and for each student to have one class with him/her.

    But only _one_. I don't really think we're in danger of having schools lacking in useless teachers, alas.

  • what doesn't kill you makes you stronger

    so in the same brilliant pilosophical vein, let's make sure we feed our children chicken tainted with salmonella in the cafeteria, let's make sure we encourage our kids to text constantly when they drive to school, and let's make sure we bully them in the hallway

    uh... no, asshole, i'm sorry, but bad experiences are accidental, not something you purposefully expose your children to. why? because it MIGHT ACTUALLY KILL YOU. ie: you might actually derail a child's academ

  • By that same token, every school should have a disgruntled student with a black trench coat and an AK47, so that kids can learn how to deal with psychopathic killers in the real world!
  • By this person's argument, should hospitals tolerate bad doctors? I mean, both teachers and doctors have a strong impact on the people they're dealing with. They're both in positions of power over their students and patients, respectively. Most importantly, they can both cause harm when they're incompetent. I never hear about people preaching tolerance for bad doctors. So why should we tolerate bad teachers?

  • by rbrander (73222) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:46PM (#32879494) Homepage

    If you say stupid nonsense that is apparently devised to excuse incompetence and get you out of improving a bad situation, you get fired.

    And I know just the public official to demonstrate this life lesson with. I'm sure that his sacrifice will be deeply appreciated by all the children instructed.

    Of course, he might not see it that way, now that it's HIS life being screwed by the "life lesson". He was OK when it was just thousands of students.

  • That's what a classroom for a kid is supposed to be?

    It's not tough enough for any kid to figure out what's going on in the world?

    In other news today:

    Teacher Provided Grant to Study Creative Defense of Incompetency
    NEA Announces Press Release Tomorrow

  • It's true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday July 12, 2010 @05:46PM (#32879512)

    Where would 1970s progressive rock have been if Roger Waters or Roger Hodgson had never had a bad teacher?

  • If they excuse some useless teachers, they had better excuse some useless students and pass them regardless of what they do. After all, it's a life lesson for the teacher and other students, right? Right???
  • Students will cope with bad teachers. But the best lessons are learned from the good ones.

    Do children benefit from bad parents? No. They will cope, but they suffer their entire lives.

    The real solution is have good teachers teach about bad teachers.

    Now, with all that being said, this person's words are being put way out of context. She's just looking on the bright side, if you ask me, given bad teachers will never go away.

  • by kikito (971480)

    By that same logic, every school should have a drug dealer and a child abuser, since those also "reflect society".

    • By that same logic, every school should have a drug dealer and a child abuser, since those also "reflect society".

      And don't forget Blackjack, and hookers!

      Come to think about it, forget about the bad teachers and child abusers.

  • Every corporation should have a bad CEO...at least one...

    Oh wait....

    -Hack

  • These kids arrive with bright young minds ready to learn and achieve. We need to teach them to lower their expectations if they're to have any chance of getting along with the screwed up crapflood we call management today.

  • If the goal is to produce trained, obedient monkeys to serve their corporate and governmental "betters," then yes, it's an invaluable lesson. (And trust me, that IS the goal.) If the goal were to truly educate, though, according to the classical or any other legitimate meaning of term, we would not tolerate bad teachers, any more than we'd tolerate a surgeon that killed most of his patients or an engineer who built bridges that constantly fall down.
    • by JSBiff (87824)

      What's sad is that we tolerate bad teachers all the way up to the college level.

      I've had plenty of good instructors, but I've also had my share of professors who, while they might be brilliant in their field, at proving mathematics, or researching computer algorithms, or whatever, where not skilled or gifted teachers.

  • In The Diamond Age: A Young Victorian Lady's Illustrated Primer, the discussion between Nell and Miss Matheson regarding the manifest unsuitability of Miss Stricken (on page 322 of the 501 page edition, the conversion to your edition is left to the student as an exercise...) makes it very clear:

    Miss Matheson smiled. "You are not far off the mark. Miss Stricken's phase of the curriculum comes perilously close to being without any real substance. Why do We bother with it then?" {snip}
    "To teach you humility

  • Really relies on parents to pay attention to their kids and their kids' education, and most parents won't. At least not until my regime implements a license for breeding. So I must respectfully disagree with the thesis of Mr. Atkins' argument.

    My regime would also impale bad teachers.

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"

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