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Old 20.06.2011, 22:23
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Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

A radio presenter yesterday made the claim that English teachers are smarter than Maths teachers.

His explanation was that the best mathematicians have plenty of options for better jobs than teaching: finance, science etc. As a result those who become Maths teachers are not the best mathematicians.

He claimed that for English the same range of options don't exist, therefore many real experts in literature etc. become teachers.

It all sounded very logical when he explained it, but I feel there must be a flaw in his explanation. Is teaching a profession that people turn to if they cannot find anything better?
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:28
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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A radio presenter yesterday made the claim that English teachers are smarter than Maths teachers.

His explanation was that the best mathematicians have plenty of options for better jobs than teaching: finance, science etc. As a result those who become Maths teachers are not the best mathematicians.

He claimed that for English the same range of options don't exist, therefore many real experts in literature etc. become teachers.

It all sounded very logical when he explained it, but I feel there must be a flaw in his explanation. Is teaching a profession that people turn to if they cannot find anything better?
Good teachers are teachers first of all and masters of their subject only after that.

Working on that assumption, people become teachers because of a vocation to teach first of all, and because of their subject only after that. So somebody who is absolutekly obsessed with maths is probably going to get a post-doc position at a university doing some fundamental front-line research. Explaining the same boring trivia to unmotivated kids year after year is not going to appeal to that type of person and they're not ging to end up in teaching in any significant numbers. People who go into teaching are a different sort. hey are driven by the love of teaching and of people and by a belief that they are creating better citizens for tomorrow. And only secondary to their vocation to teach do they pick a subject and they obviously pick a subject they are good at.

Contrary to your claim, the fact that mathematicians can pursue a career in maths helps filter out the hardcore mathematicians and keeps them out of teaching. Hardcore lit and art types who will teach because its still better than being unemployed don't have that alternative and are thus more likely to filter into the teaching profession and that subject will thus have worse teachers on average.
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:33
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

No, it's more than that.

My father got his teaching degree, but it didn't work for him so he went back to school and got an engineering degree. My mother, on the other hand, is a life-long teacher. My sister gave up accounting, and became a teacher because she wanted the longer vacations. I moved to CH, and got longer vacations while NOT becoming a teacher (a job I would HATE, just not for me.

So teachers are teachers, some are good, some are great, some are ok, and some are crap. In my life, those I consider the best were invariably the toughest, those that made me work for my grades (which I got, no matter what), but the same has been true of my employers.

To me, my best teachers didn't actually teach me anything, rather they gave me the basis, opportunity and environment to learn for myself.

Not easy.

Tom
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:39
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

Also have to point out that the math that is taught in school is very basic math. If you are one of the best at math, you are good at something that is far removed to math learned in primary and secondary school.

Personally, I think that math taught at these level is basic and standard. Any person who has learned it should be able to teach it (provided they have good teaching skills).

If you have any post-secondary education, you should be able to present the material, it's fairly trival, either right or wrong.
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:39
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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Good teachers are teachers first of all and masters of their subject only after that.

Working on that assumption, people become teachers because of a vocation to teach first of all, and because of their subject only after that. So somebody who is absolutekly obsessed with maths is probably going to get a post-doc position at a university doing some fundamental front-line research. Explaining the same boring trivia to unmotivated kids year after year is not going to appeal to that type of person and they're not ging to end up in teaching in any significant numbers. People who go into teaching are a different sort. hey are driven by the love of teaching and of people and by a belief that they are creating better citizens for tomorrow. And only secondary to their vocation to teach do they pick a subject and they obviously pick a subject they are good at.

Contrary to your claim, the fact that mathematicians can pursue a career in maths helps filter out the hardcore mathematicians and keeps them out of teaching. Hardcore lit and art types who will teach because its better than being unemployed don't have that alternative and are thus likely to be worse teachers on average.
That makes sense. Teaching as a vocation rather than being an expert throws his explanation right out the window. A good teacher, on that basis, should be good at almost any subject, not just their specialisms.

It was the radio presenter's claim, not mine
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:41
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

Why does this remind me of somebody (ies) ?
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:44
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

But, being a mathematician or an expert in literature does not necessarily make one a good teacher, so I think the argument is flawed. A good teacher is a good teacher, per se; they possess skills that are not necessarily directly proportional to their expertise in their chosen subject.
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:48
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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Also have to point out that the math that is taught in school is very basic math. If you are one of the best at math, you are good at something that is far removed to math learned in primary and secondary school.

Personally, I think that math taught at these level is basic and standard. Any person who has learned it should be able to teach it (provided they have good teaching skills).

If you have any post-secondary education, you should be able to present the material, it's fairly trival, either right or wrong.
Depends where you've learned it, the Swiss have a very strange way of doing long division (slow and inefficient, and it's not new, even people my age learnt it strangely here), and some other stuff as well.

My kids didn't like my helping them with math, as I didn't do it the same way!

Best was, once my daughter had to do some 3d geometric stuff, and of course I had forgotten everything, so had to derive the equations by integration!

Tom
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:51
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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But, being a mathematician or an expert in literature does not necessarily make one a good teacher, so I think the argument is flawed. A good teacher is a good teacher, per se; they possess skills that are not necessarily directly proportional to their expertise in their chosen subject.
How very true. Teaching is a skill, more so than knowledge of the subject taught.

Can a good teacher swap subjects ?

I think so... Our PE teacher used to take the place of our Geography teacher now and again. Completely different style, knew how to motivate and made it all interesting again.
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:53
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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Depends where you've learned it, the Swiss have a very strange way of doing long division (slow and inefficient, and it's not new, even people my age learnt it strangely here), and some other stuff as well.

My kids didn't like my helping them with math, as I didn't do it the same way!

Best was, once my daughter had to do some 3d geometric stuff, and of course I had forgotten everything, so had to derive the equations by integration!

Tom

Very true (I assume you're not a teacher by profession)---but this comes down to the skills of a teacher. If you're a good English(or whatever Subject) Teacher, once given the requirements you should be able to design and set up a lesson plan, and present it in math without issue. It's really just presenting the rules, applying the rules, and having the students repeat and practise said rules.
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:54
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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those who become Maths teachers are not the best mathematicians.

He claimed that for English the same range of options don't exist, therefore many real experts in literature etc. become teachers.
That may be true but the best mathematicians, those with exceptionally powerful minds, are out there putting men into space, breaking Nazi codes and solving odd equations.

A real literature expert does what? Reads a book a bit faster and knows what some people think about what was going on in a poet's head? They're only suitable to be educators and media luvvies. They're of no practical use.

A good maths teacher should be inspiring their pupils to change the world. English teachers just encourage people to spout shite on Internet forums.
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:56
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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English teachers just encourage people to spout shite on Internet forums.
Assume yours was good then
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Old 20.06.2011, 22:58
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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That may be true but the best mathematicians, those with exceptionally powerful minds, are out there putting men into space, breaking Nazi codes and solving odd equations.

A real literature expert does what? Reads a book a bit faster and knows what some people think about what was going on in a poet's head? They're only suitable to be educators and media luvvies. They're of no practical use.

A good maths teacher should be inspiring their pupils to change the world. English teachers just encourage people to spout shite on Internet forums.

But hopefully grammatically correct shite.
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Old 20.06.2011, 23:00
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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But hopefully grammatically correct shite.
/* Bites tongue. */

My avatar says it all for me...
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Old 20.06.2011, 23:04
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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Why does this remind me of somebody (ies) ?
Any resemblence to anyone that you may know on EF (or anywhere else) is purely coincidental
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Old 20.06.2011, 23:07
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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But hopefully grammatically correct shite.
I nearly added a bit about spelling and grammar these days, but thought better of it.
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Old 20.06.2011, 23:16
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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Our PE teacher used to take the place of our Geography teacher now and again. Completely different style, knew how to motivate and made it all interesting again.
If only our Geology teacher had taken us for PE .........
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Old 20.06.2011, 23:24
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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Old 20.06.2011, 23:26
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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If only our Geology teacher had taken us for PE .........
I assume a female teacher with nice rocks ?
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Old 20.06.2011, 23:29
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Re: Are English teachers smarter than Maths teachers?

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I assume a female teacher with nice rocks ?
Something along those lines
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