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Why student teachers know so little philosophy.

Posted By: patrick groff on July 4, 2002
 
Dear Mr. Mitchell:

My answer to your question is multifaceted. Please allow me to explain.

One, the legislatures in many states have reduced the number of education courses that students can be required to take. Schools of education have been indolent in not working with their universities' departments of philosophy to shape up some courses that would be prerequisites to entry into schools of education. This has not happened since education professors seem to have become about as indifferent to philosophy as are future teachers.

Two, philosophy courses at most universities are hopelessly biased against the conservative view of reality amd truth. They smother their idiosyncracies in this regard with much fulsome blather which future teachers, being designed to teach children who respond best with conservative instruction, tend to view as irrelevant. Philosophy departments commonly do not hire, or award tenure to conservative professors. The philosophy courses offered thus may be rejected by many future teachers as totally one-sided, and/or hogwash with little if any utility.

Three, the level of intellectual alertness among women student teachers (about all we get at my university) since the advent of the sexual revolution has significantly diminished. Schools of education student bodies thus are increasingly filled with apathetic, detached, intellectually mediocre, personality inconsequential, and cookie-pattern, expendable women. All the superior university women are in courses that will land them high-paying, prestigious jobs.

Four, today's future teachers are caught between the typically liberal iterations of their education professors about children, and the rather crude repellency of these ideas by the students they are expected to instruct. The right kind of philosophy class could be highly useful in helping to resolve the emotional turmoil that future teachers suffer from this dichotomy. Unfortunately, there are no neatly designed philosophy courses about problems that education professors will not admit occur.

Five, it may be that philosophy, at least the kind that philosophy professors are allowed to teach, has little or nothing of pertience to recommend to teachers who are products of a exhaustively fluctuating world of sex without love, drugs without illness, music of the crudest sort, movies and art of numbing insignificance, etc. Perhaps philosophy has been overrun by a careering spectacle of violence, greed, and sophistry, even at the highest levels of society. If history is dead, as some proclaim it so, is not philosophy metaphorically dying in the nursing home, inarticulate and overwhelmed by daily contradictions, even among some of its most profound members?

Patrick Groff
Professor of Education Emeritus
San Diego State University

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