Thinking Out Loud: What if Universities Harnessed the Power of K-12 Teachers?

Student bodies at universities are more diverse than ever. Students who fill lecture halls increasingly come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and have a variety of learning needs. Even so, many universities decline to question the idea that a Ph.D. from an ivy and a book publication somehow makes a person qualified to lead a class, and continue many harmful practices that marginalize vulnerable students.

Universities around the U.S. could address high drop-out rates by tapping into the pedagogical expertise of innovative secondary educators and educational coaches who have been helping “diverse” students for years. However, I’m guessing that the following might function as barriers to progress:

  • The low-status of teachers and teaching
  • The belief that content knowledge is more important than an understanding of how learning works and an understanding of how to motivate learners
  • The belief that a book publication is the best indicator that someone has content knowledge
  • A failure to critically examine the ways in which professors (who predominantly come from privileged backgrounds) might need assistance in understanding, connecting with, and generally meeting the needs of students with less privileged backgrounds
  • A willingness to blame adolescents, iphones, and secondary educators for dropout rates and lack of student engagement

On a related note:

Dear Professors: Stop Lecturing. Now.

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