Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teach Math!

One of the highly annoying problems about all education babble is the extent to which there are a number of highly bifurcated divisions, and all too often we don't even mention which half we're talking about. Elementary or secondary? e.g., reading Core Knowledge people is really confusing for a high school person -- they don't even have a high school curriculum. Low income or high income schools? Totally different situation in the US. Math vs. everything else?

These are tough times to be looking for work as a teacher.

Unless, it seems, you're hoping to become a math teacher.

That's the conclusion of a recent report, which finds that nationwide demand for teachers has fallen in all 60 fields examined over the past year. Only one subject area—math teaching—was found to be in "considerable demand,"

As you might have noticed, I tend to be TFA and alternative certification skeptic, but that doesn't really extend to math. I've personally buttonholed likely looking geeks in bookstores while looking for math teachers. I'd support math teacher press gangs. Whatever it takes. Particularly in low-income high schools we desperately need passable math teachers. It is ridiculous. My former school has all kind of strengths but it will probably never consistently make AYP because of math, and it isn't really a mystery -- they can't find math teachers! It isn't a subtle problem.

1 comment:

jd2718 said...

But we won't solve the problem with a stream of temp teachers either. And if they are alt cert, let them come through a program that encourages them to explore making teaching their career.

In NYC, they produced a ton of alt cert math teachers, including taking non-math people with a few courses (they should have not dropped the minimum quite as low as they did) and converting them to math. In fact, math is not one of our shortage areas at this moment.

There's lots bad about the 'immersion' approach - they ended up producing what I considered an unacceptably high number of marginally mathematically able teachers (esp at some sites, such as City College, where they all but dropped the math requirement). But there's also lots good.

I worked for the program (indirectly) at a stronger site, and a group I worked with, pre-service, summer '02, of 25, 15 are still teaching, 2 more are supervisors...

But we also have the problem of imparting some sense of math (love of math, or is that asking too much?) on some portion of our elementary teachers... that's tougher...

Jonathan