There is a rather curious development going on in large parts of the Western world. As far as I know, in countries like the United States, England, Germany, Sweden, and probably a few others, the teaching profession is seemingly the exclusive reserve for the absolutely dumbest students. I recall reading studies of the average IQ of education majors in the US, which were found to be among the lowest of all disciplines. In England, teaching is a highly unattractive career, at least in state schools. They still have a system of elite private schools, and I’d assume that the teachers there are of a different caliber. Sweden likewise has decided to let the biggest morons educate their children. Just like in the US, it is almost impossible to fail high school, and if you have barely graduated, you still have the grades to become a teacher.
The Swedish high school system places few demands on pupils. In fact, if you barely make it through high school and want to study at university, then becoming a teacher may be your only option. The required grades are very low, but if you were so stupid and lazy that you can’t even do that, then you can sit a multiple-choice test that has a passing bar that is so low that you can be expected to pass by answering questions randomly. An older teacher told me this, and she said she doesn’t know the math (lol), but she believed that it’s almost impossible to fail. This was a few years ago, but if I recall correctly, the bar was at a shockingly low 20%, there are no penalties for wrong answers, and all questions have four answer choices. Thus, the expected value when pursuing a strategy of randomly choosing answers is 25%. (I tried explaining the calculations to her, but to no avail.) Another problem in Sweden is that teaching is poorly paid. On top, schools are full of vibrant enrichers, so if they want to recruit any teachers at all, they can no longer afford to ask for any kind of minimum qualifications. Currently, there is even a push to let people teach without a degree, based on “life experience.”
In Germany, teaching is a somewhat odd profession. It can be fabulously well-paid if you get a position as a government official who cannot get fired, a so-called ‘Beamter’. Your income after taxes is above 4,000 Euros/month for new hires, which is the kind of salary that the person who goes into teaching would not be able to earn elsewhere, not by a long shot. Of course, if you are smart and ambitious, you can make more money in industry, but even as an engineer, accountant, or consultant, you may need a few years of work experience to make that much money. However, it may also be that you only get a fixed-term teaching contract, which is only for nine months per year and at a lower salary level. You’ll of course have to work side-by-side with teachers who make twice as much and have a job for life.
I went to school in Germany, so I don’t have first-hand experience of the other countries I mentioned. Yet, what I experienced back then was such a shitshow that it is not surprising that any pupil with a modicum of intelligence wants to avoid the profession. Likewise, the laziest and dumbest pupils wanted to become teachers. Heck, I had teachers who bragged about how poor their grades in high school were or about the fact that it took them 10 years to get their teaching degree. It was bizarre. I think the saving grace was that the state I attended high school in had a centralized final examination, which ensured that a decent standard was reached.
In countries like China, Japan, and Singapore, students get held to high standards. There, your school grades determine to quite a significant degree how well you will do in life. I think this is most extreme in Japan, where high school is so challenging that the top students who get into top universities can afford to coast for years because it is so relaxed in comparison. My Singaporean wife went to an elite high school and for her, university was likewise a walk in the park. When she studied abroad in Europe, she couldn’t believe how lax the standards at university were. That professors would individually extend deadlines or even offer alternative examinations, e.g. an essay instead of a group presentation because you want to travel around Europe, seemed strange to her. Quite frankly, it is strange and makes higher education into a travesty. You get coddled instead of challenged.
In the end, you reap what you sow. The idea of letting the absolutely dumbest high school graduates become teachers is so preposterous that words fail to describe how idiotic it is. Smart pupils in high school simply zone out. In high school, and I went to a decent one, I was able to do my mathematics tests faster than the teacher who designed them. Let this sink in: the dude designed the test and then, while we did the test, he did it himself as well to check how long it would take him. He should breeze through it, not only because he already knew the questions but also because he’s teaching the same material year after year. We had weekly tests that were scheduled to take 60 minutes. I don’t think I ever needed more than 15 minutes; my teacher needed 25 or so, and the better students 40. A significant chunk of students was not able to finish the test within the hour. The point of this detour is that any good student will necessarily feel alienated in the West. (On a side note, I once seriously considered studying Latin, and the main reason was that it was the only subject where I had to make an effort.)
I think we are stuck in a downward spiral that will be almost impossible to get out of. How would you even reset the system? Sure, you could raise standards for teachers, but that can’t quite work because everybody going through high school will have a substandard experience. Even if you could attract better students to the teaching profession, you would not change much because they also have to operate in a system that is egalitarian and leftist to the hilt. In other words, it is extremely difficult to change the system because the morons are running the show now. What could work is setting up magnet schools or lighthouse schools, or whatever you may call them, put the best teachers in them, and only admit the very best students. This would lead to a segregated school system, like it already exists in the United States or England. Yet, then the graduates of those schools would get stigmatized by society, which is certainly a problem in Europe. Quite recently, for example, Macron, the president of France, announced that he is going to shut down one of their selective schools for public administrators, which selected students solely based on academic merit. Great move! You can bet that the next generation of French administrators will be selected based on much more dubious criteria, maybe like in Germany where having a front-hole or having immigrant parents opens many doors.
At this point, the West is probably beyond hope. That our schools are rotten is merely a symptom of the terminal decline of the West. Arguably, we can no longer solve our problems with democratic means. If you doubt that, then please tell me which Western democracy is in a good shape. There is not a single one. It is all too fitting that the biggest idiots we can find educate our children.
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