I continue to wonder about today’s sorry state of education in this country. Yesterday and today I talked about text representation in Intro to CS. One of the topics is the Unicode character set, which contains binary definitions for every known written language alphabet in the world. That includes the Cherokee language, which was invented by Sequoyah, a Cherokee himself, just about 60 miles up the road at New Echota.

I know I learned about this in Georgia history when I was in school. But when I asked, out of five classes, over 100 students, only FIVE knew that the Cherokees had a written language. Only two knew who created it. This, despite several schools in metro Atlanta named for Sequoyah!

It’s episodes like this that convince me that one of the biggest mistakes made in training teachers is in training them in how to teach (i.e. “education”) instead of what to teach (i.e. the actual subject matter). I can see majoring in education to teach in the primary and elementary grades, where you have to be a generalist, but when you start educating middle and high school teachers, damn it, they need to know the subject matter first and foremost.

When Annie came by for a visit a couple of weeks ago, she commented that in her view as an elementary ed major doing her student teaching, things are okay in the K-5 setting, but they go to hell in a handbasket after that. She also has the perspective of being born and living in South Africa for the first part of her life.

There was also the paraphrased comment by Alan Greenspan in last week’s paper that our fourth graders compare just fine in math and science with students of other countries, but by middle and high school they have fallen WAY behind.

Disgusting. No wonder I sent Woodward Academy so much money for twelve years, to try to get my own child SOME kind of education.

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