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Education Official Says Bad Teachers Can Be Good For Students

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the hiring-on-a-curve dept.

Education 279

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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I take it (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878898)

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.

Re:I take it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879090)

I guess you missed the slashdot story where about a third of scientists were deists and another third agnostic, huh?

Re:I take it (2, Insightful)

smaddox (928261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879298)

Most scientist don't deal with fundamental questions about the universe and existence. I hypothesize that the numbers would be very different if the poll were limited to particle physicists, string theorists, and astronomers. Unless forced to confront the issue head on, humans are perfectly capable of holding two diametrically opposed beliefs simultaneously.

Re:I take it (1)

linuxgeek64 (1246964) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879450)

Yeah, you're right. My parents, who are both biologists, were raised as Christians but now they aren't religious. They neither care about religion at all nor give it any thought.

Re:I take it (4, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879610)

String theory? Are you just troling, or hoping nobody notices that the same criteria we use to distinguish ID from science (lack of testable predictions) thus far applies to string theory as well?

Anyway, I wouldn't be too sure that the numbers would differ so much when you talk only about cosmologists. The only way to hold science and religion as diametrically opposed views is if you take mindlessly literal interpretations of both.

Re:I take it (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879702)

Uh, aren't scientific findings generally supposed to be taken literally? i.e. X causes Y, A is true because of B, E is a subclass of F, etc etc etc You can preface with "evidence shows" and whatnot, but when stating something as a scientific truth you generally aren't meant to be taken figuratively. And from the religious standpoint, which parts are to be taken literally vs. figuratively? How is one to tell the difference?

Re:I take it (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879682)

Arguably, one of the strengths of the scientific endeavor is that it does not, in theory, actually demand any particular belief state at all(In practice, of course, human psychology being what it is, is probably does exert a bit of a push).

In principle, somebody who believes that he is a brain in a jar being lied to by a Cartesian evil Genius could do science exactly as well as your stock empiricist, so long as they were both equally willing to use experimental methods, deductive logic, statistics, and so forth.

Re:I take it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879106)

If you read "through" the UK papers she did not get her job on ability. Nudge nudge wink wink say no more.

Re:I take it (-1, Troll)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879194)

Lesson Learned. If you are stupid/incompetent, go for a union job.

Re:I take it (1)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879498)

Wow, second post in a story about education and the union bashing has already started. That might be a Slashdot record (or maybe not).

Re:I take it (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879716)

Could it possibly be because unions are part of the problem where bad teachers are concerned? Its almost impossible to fire an incompetent tenured teacher because of the unions. There's an entire room of teachers in NYC that sit there all day because the union rules won't allow them to be fired.

Re:I take it (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879948)

According to Panorama on BBC 1 a week or so ago, the incompetent teachers in the UK are still in classrooms teaching children. They move between schools a lot, but the process to remove their certificate to teach is really long so the headteachers don't bother. The (one of the?) government body that oversees teaching standards was abolished by the new government; hopefully whatever replaces it will be more effective.

I don't disagree that an incompetent teacher is a useful experience -- but the damage caused far outweighs this.

Re:I take it (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879796)

I guess he works 6 1/2 days a week for minimum wage, gets 2 weeks unpaid vacation a year and either likes it or thinks it unfair that some have it better.

Re:I take it (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879634)

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

Re:I take it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879902)

we havent given close scrutiny to things like creation science lately

Yeah, lets wind ourselves up about 'creation science' which isn't even present in any schools that can be controlled by our legislatures. Lets NOT worry about grade inflation, the fact all our schools have far more than one bad teacher and that the curricula is watered down with NEA approved ethnic and sexuality oriented psycho-babble head games, all of which IS present in actual schools. No, instead we'll fret about fools clinging to dreams of one day possibly making the slightest inroad into real schools despite everyone else.

This reminds me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878904)

of my old boss at work

Summary is misleading. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878916)

FTFA: Zenna Atkins, stressing these were her personal views, earlier told the Sunday Times...

Re:Summary is misleading. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879924)

Why is the Sunday Times running articles about the personal views of this woman in the first place, then?

Either they're going for the sensationalist angle (Which is likely), or she's playing a dangerous game by allowing her personal version of idiocy to be aired all over the english-speaking world. I don't disagree that there are life lessons to be learned from just about every situation, but in some cases a poor teacher can be as harmful to a student's growth and development as an abusive parent, and I think it speaks volumes that she says "actually surviving" a poor teacher can be an advantage. What of the kids who don't "survive"? And what does it tell students about the world if the school isn't taking measures to eliminate poor teaching?

I don't want any more generations growing up with the idea that "it's ok to be incompetent as long as you have connections" (in this case, the union). Schools should not be creating sheeple! If I had the means I'd tear the system apart, starting with idiots like this woman.

OJT (5, Insightful)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878928)

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.

Sadly (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879256)

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.

Re:Sadly (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879660)

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 being gets to be a teenager, I'm not so sure any more. Will our economic and academic .... comparative"eliteness" keep the kid out of trouble?
Anyway, as it is today, I try to shield the kid from the middle class "normality junkies" that would pack the "better" neighbourhoods...

Re:OJT (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879470)

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.

I'd reply... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878932)

but my public school education prevents me from being coherent on any given topic.

Re:I'd reply... (1)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879544)

I have to say, I see all these comments ragging on the public school system and I just have to this an America only thing? I am from Canada, and while I have my fair share of beefs with the education system (currently in University to be a teacher myself), I have seen (through practicums within high-schools) that if you live in a city you can enter into enriched programs. I myself was extremely bored throughout high-school since I grew up in the country and attended a school with no enrichment.
The enrichment programs offered were all very good, ranging from I.B. programs to simply taking advanced placement. In the school I was in last semester, if you took A.P. throughout school, you would have finished first year university level subject matter upon graduation, and this was recognized and these students allowed in many cases to skip the first year university course in that subject.

Re:I'd reply... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879596)

Is that you Boris?

Not real life (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not real life (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879192)

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 (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879200)

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:Not real life (2, Interesting)

Garridan (597129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879652)

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 homework, and came to learn the material well enough to fight her (and eventually report her behavior to the dean). This anger evoked a passion for rigor, and now, I'm working towards my PhD in math. So yeah, shitty teacher actually had a great effect on me. But to this day, I feel sorry for the rest of the students who were merely confused by what they saw.

Re:Not real life (1)

Halborr (1373599) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879736)

On the other hand, pumping out mindless drones lets the ones who actually care stand out.

The world needs lackeys.

Re:Not real life (2, Informative)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879750)

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 when certain states/territories were obtained and she gave me the dates. But the big map that was hanging in the room didn't agree with her. So I asked her about the map and she was like "well I don't know then." I was like WTF! You're supposed to be teaching me exactly about this!

Finally, my experience has been that teachers are just like you and I: human! They forget, confuse and sometimes just plain don't know. One guy in particular said straight out in a philosophy class:

"You (students) are welcome to bring drinks, such as my coffee here (points to it) or water. Can have food in the room such as snacks, as long as you have a PhD in your name. And since I happen to be the only one with a PhD, then that means I'm the only one allowed to have food and drinks."

So, fast forward a bit... this teacher, who I take it as bragging because he has a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard, literally only shows every other class. Actually, he does show, to post a note. But it's usually before we get there so we don't see him. Maybe he sent a TA? Then, he grades everyone REALLY poorly. Even I who love philosophy do really bad. So in the end, the students who reallllly needed this class get screwed because there is no way they can pass it without a lot of exposure to what he was teaching already. But what pissed me off more than anything, is that he wouldn't answer a question I had. I won't get into the details, but he straight refused to say anything other than: "I am not that person, so I can not tell you what they would say/think/answer/consider/etc." Glad that PhD is working for him!

Re:Not real life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879772)

Sometimes, in "Real Life", the boss also needs people to do work without having to argue and explain from first principles why he wants task X done.

Re:Not real life (3, Interesting)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879776)

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!

Translation (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879310)

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

Re:Not real life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879374)

Still an important life lesson: rich people don't have to put up with incompetence - that is why we have to teach all those little future middle managers to do it.

Re:Not real life (1)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879936)

That and in addition we have a situation where we protect bad teachers. Billy has poor marks? He must not try very hard, he's a good kid with lots of potential, but he doesnt apply himself. *wait no couldnt possibly be the teacher is shit* Personal story: I'm terrible with english, my english teacher was a bad teacher, I was a 90s student otherwise. He never taught worth shit. He would be 15mins later everyday for the 1hr class. Half the time he wouldnt actually teach. He would simply talk about last night's basketball game or some movie or whatever. On top of that... as an anti-cheating measure we had to write our essays, on a topic he gave during the class, in class. So we were given 30-45mins to write 3-5 page essay. Everyone would fail unless they cheated. If he didnt like you. You would get caught cheating. While if you were his friend... you could cheat at will as he never said crap against you. Infact he would talk to these friends out of class and tell them ahead of time the topic of the essay, they'd write the essay and bring it to class on the day. So I complain and complain and everyone says it's my fault for not trying hard enough. I go up the chain. Which then gets back. They basically blind the teacher. He has to start giving the tests the other english teacher gives. The same ones. Since he never taught worth a shit. Everyone basically starts getting about 20% on the tests. Which proved how shit a teacher he was. Except he got to imput the marks and decided to give all his friends 90s then basically input everyone else on a curve. Despite that curve i was basically at the top of the curve. I still end up with a terrible mark and no knowledge. tldr; bad teachers are protected and hurt students.

WTH (1, Insightful)

sabs (255763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878938)

Is this person just mentally retarded?

Re:WTH (2, Funny)

idries (174087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878968)

Nah... she just had a bad teacher.

Re:WTH (2, Insightful)

vell0cet (1055494) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879262)

Nah... she's just THE bad teacher that she's talking about.

I picture a Monty Python skit (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#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."

Re:I picture a Monty Python skit (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879364)

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 along with. They deal with their siblings, their friends, etc., all of whom can be stubborn and wrong at times. They'll learn how to deal with that just fine without having teachers who don't know what they're talking about. By the time they're teenagers, they will inevitably learn to challenge authority and push boundaries anyway without that "help".

Re:I picture a Monty Python skit (1)

Velex (120469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879734)

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.

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.

I'm okay with it... (4, Funny)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878976) long as the bad teacher isn't the metal/wood shop teacher or driving instructor.

Re:I'm okay with it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879162)

You're joking, but you're also right. The bad teach in my old high school was the driving instructor. He was constantly threatening and actively harassing students with the intent of causing depression. He was borderline psychotic. He'd been there for near ten years before he was fired (for sexual harassment no less) and only after I'd graduated.

The upside? I'm far better off than he ever was, or ever will be. Yet I still don't have a drivers license. Go figure.

Re:I'm okay with it... (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879406)

You learn to drive in school? (serious question)

Re:I'm okay with it... (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879552)

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.

Re:I'm okay with it... (1)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879612)

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.

Re:I'm okay with it... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879614)

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.

Re:I'm okay with it... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879622)

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 from state to state and possibly even from district to district. I would be interested to hear how its handled in other countries.

Bureaucracy. (1)

Irick (1842362) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878988)

A wonderful, wonderful system filled with useful findings that promote efficiency and good life practices.

What about classmates? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878994)

I've had enough trouble with bad classmates as a reflection of society. There's no need to extend this to teachers as well.

I had a teacher like that... (4, Interesting)

easterberry (1826250) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I had a teacher like that... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879096)

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".

Re:I had a teacher like that... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879570)

Kinda like how 'comic books' rarely are funny. Just'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

Re:I had a teacher like that... (1) (1093595) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879790)

At least they completely understand you when you tell them the tubes are clogged. :)

Re:I had a teacher like that... (3, Funny)

bynary (827120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879504)

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.

Re:I had a teacher like that... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879850)

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.


Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879032)

Your pompous-ass never had to sit in a class taught by a shitty teacher you trust-fund cunt.

More Theoretical Nonsense (5, Insightful)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879034)

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.

Re:More Theoretical Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879342)

Professional educators don't like useless teachers either. When our colleagues can't do their jobs, it makes life more difficult for everyone who has to work with them. It also justifies all the "teachers are worthless" BS that is constantly thrown at a profession full of hard-working and competent people who toil constantly for little pay and less appreciation.

Re:More Theoretical Nonsense (1)

ndsbriand (870862) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879416)

I have a similar story. In Junior High, my daughter had a choir teacher that was terrible. Until that experience, she loved singing. After that year, she hated it. It took me three years of gently working with her to convince her to give choir another shot. When she finally did give it a try again, she loved it. If I hadn't worked so hard to undo the damage caused by that one, poor teacher, my daughter would have never rediscovered her love of singing.

One bad teacher can ruin a student for life!

Just one problem with this... (5, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879040)

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.

Re:Just one problem with this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879296)

You are correct. In th eschools, the teachers are supposed to be teaching something else. It is my understanding (not my personal experience) that the military does provide excellent instruction in how to work with and around the semi-competent lackwits placed in a position of authority by virtue of having been commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant (or equivalent rank in services with "creative" rank titles).

Re:Just one problem with this... (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879434)

... services with "creative" rank titles ...

Oh, you mean the Navy?

Teenagers (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879050)

'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 staff is completely composed of nobel prize winners, theres always going to be that one teacher that is the stupidest. So, in that way, the entire story is meaningless, unless he's advocating a single teacher in a one room schoolhouse.

Irony (2, Funny)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879054)

She was being ironic.

Genius is believing two opposing thoughts at once (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879100)

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.

So....the lesson is.... (1)

fataugie (89032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879104)

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?

Encouraging disrespect for authority figures... (3, Funny)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879120)

I like it.

Re:Encouraging disrespect for authority figures... (1)

Chrutil (732561) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879394)

William of Ockham had no beard. The most likely explanation is that it was chewed off by squirrels every morning.

Gee thanks. Now I have coffee dripping out of my nose and a yucky monitor.
Hysterical sig.

OK, so bad experiences can "build character"... (1)

ITBurnout (1845712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879122)

...but do they make your SAT scores any better?

in other news... (1)

ifeelswine (1546221) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879138)

Good teachers can be bad for students

From the Article.... (1)

AndrewBC (1675992) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879140)

"Ms Atkins, who is leaving her job at the end of August to take up a role with a private education company, said state education could learn lessons from the way industry works."

And there is your silver lining!

Wrong lesson (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879146)

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... (5, Interesting)

clong83 (1468431) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I disagree... (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879490)

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.

Oh well. (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879236)

Every government department should have a useless official.

Uh Huh (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879244)

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, bad lawyers and bad doctors. Making excuses like this for the inept is pretty damned questionable to me.

Re:Uh Huh (1) (1093595) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879892)

Hmm. Imagine the quality of individual teaching would attract if they were paid similarly to doctors, accountants and lawyers. Hey, your average landscape gardner or rubbish truck driver makes more money than a high school teacher.

As a taxpayer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879294)

I am looking for the "Fire" button.

I can actually see a point (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879332)

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.

in other words: (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879358)

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 academic experience. ther'es another word for your "philosophy": willful irresponsibility

it's amazing what kind of bullshit people will rationalize

darling Zenna Atkins: kindly keep your genius bathroom break epiphanies in the toilet stall, and shut the fuck up

Strongly disagree (1)

Yaddoshi (997885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879376)

I've had not one but two terrible math teachers in my schooling history. Consequently, even though my SAT scores showed a higher math aptitude, I never took calculus and basically avoided math for the remainder of my schooling, including college where I went for a degree in metalsmithing, even though the one class I showed real aptitude in was computer graphics programming. Hindsight is telling me I should have switched majors and found a tutor to overcome my lack of training.

A bad teacher should never be tolerated, and certainly not encouraged. I'd like to see Zenna Atkins theory applied to her medical practitioner, and see what sort of life lessons she gains there. But then, perhaps she has her point of view because she fits the bad teacher mold herself. Anyone know?

Case Closed on Public Education (1)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879424)

I already believed public education was a failure, but this should alert the rest of the world.

Re:Case Closed on Public Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879480)

Much of the rest of the world (at least the good parts) have strong public education systems that have been very successful.

Some schools can't achieve 1 good one (0, Troll)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879442)

And thanks to the unions, good luck firing the bad ones.

Reductio ad absurdum (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879460)

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!

We could say the same for doctors (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879482)

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?

Another valuable life lesson... (2, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879494)

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.

School of hard knocks? (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879502)

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 (3, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879512)

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

I agree ... (1)

marcobat (1178909) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879574)

I learn and studied many things in spite of the best efforts of my public school teachers to discourage me. (yes, professoressa Monti i talking about you)

What a load of ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879598)

There are plenty of life lessons from the other students.

There is no need and no room for a bad teacher.

Fine, as long as they don't mind useless students (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879608)

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???

Re:Fine, as long as they don't mind useless studen (1)

Halborr (1373599) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879908)

In my experience, they do. I have a friend that one day said, "I'm gonna fail every class so I can go to the Alternative High School." He did, and they moved him after he convinced the counselor that he wasn't going to try no matter what.

So Dumb! (1)

h-nu (311690) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879746)

This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard an "educator" say, and that is saying something.
35 years of teaching high school physics, taking upgrading courses in physics, math and teaching technique, working my butt off to be as good as I can be, and I hear this!
Incompetent teachers kill student motivation, cause conflict in the school and bring the public system into disrepute. They also encourage ignorance and cynicism in their students.
No wonder the public distrusts us.
Root them out!

Bad Teachers Are A Bad Idea (1)

genealotech (1854354) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879748)

Having worked in a K-8 public school, I can assure you this Chairman is completely out of touch. There is more to being a teacher than just showing up for work, and having an incompetent teacher makes the students further behind in their studies, lower in their test scores, the students (namely the middle school aged students) can sense when someone cannot handle classroom discipline and as a result you end up with multiple incidents where students get hurt in the classroom. I've witnessed this happening, not only did the parents hate it, the students hated it more. What's worse, low income students look to their teachers as a role model for what you can do with your life with an education. An incompetent teacher only sets a really bad example to these students. The other teachers resent it because they have to pick up the slack for what the incompetent one is not doing. This is definitely NOT a good idea.

She's just looking on the bright side. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879766)

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.

Mmm (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879820)

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

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