2009 August 29 Saturday
The Inductivist Finds Low High School Teacher IQs

Ron Guhname (a pseudonym since he works in politically oppressive academia) The Inductivist finds that using answers on the General Social Survey the average high school teacher in America has an IQ of only 104. That is worse than I expected. I would have guessed between 110 and 115.

What is the typical teacher's IQ? Reader David made an interesting comment on the post about the breadwinner family that with homeschooling your child is taught by someone with a IQ higher than that of the typical teacher (not to mention having the right politics).

What is the level of intelligence of today's high school teacher? Looking at GSS data, I calculated mean IQs for the 1980s and 1990s combined (N = 107) and for this decade (N = 68) . For the early period, the average was 107. Now it's 104. I'm not impressed.

College education departments are less known for their academic standards than for their kooky theories. But I expected the need to pass courses outside of education majors would have put a floor on teacher IQs that would have produced a higher average than 104. But I haven't looked at the SAT and ACT data for applicants to state teachers colleges. Maybe 104 is plausible. Anyone got a source of data on this?

Ron's point about homeschooling is important. Smart moms can give their kids better educations than they'll receive at school.

These results provide another argument for more video lectures and downloadable textbooks for kids in grade school and high school. A private non-profit foundation looking for beneficial ways to spend its money could serve a useful service by hiring smart people to lecture to video cameras on grammar, history, and other topics aimed at grade school and high school students. Recorded high quality lectures would serve as useful tools for both home schooling moms and also for parents who want to provide a higher quality supplement for what Johnnie and Jill are learning at the local public school.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 August 29 12:55 PM  Education

Scott said at August 29, 2009 1:39 PM:

You may be able to gather some data from state certification exam scores. I'm the only administrator that I know of who looks at those scores or where the student graduated from college as part of the hiring process. It bothers me that I have to pay a math teacher from MIT the same as a PE or shop teacher from State U. Many district are moving towards GALLUP's teacher/ administrator survey to assess a score for hiring purposes http://www.gallup.com/consulting/education/22093/teacherinsight.aspx This has nothing to do with intellect, just personality.

Matt@occidentalism.org said at August 29, 2009 5:35 PM:

At 104 there is virtually no point in the teacher turning up for work at all. However, I wonder how much the average has been affected by 'diversity'.

Randall Parker said at August 29, 2009 6:09 PM:


I wondered the same thing. I'm going to ask around.

Daniel said at August 29, 2009 10:50 PM:

>>It bothers me that I have to pay a math teacher from MIT the same as a PE or shop teacher from State U. Many district are moving towards GALLUP's teacher/ administrator survey to assess a score for hiring purposes http://www.gallup.com/consulting/education/22093/teacherinsight.aspx This has nothing to do with intellect, just personality.

Why would an MIT graduate teach general curriculum high school math? Seems like he is overqualified. You are doing him a favor by underpaying him; maybe he will leave. He should do more with his talent and degree than teach high school math.

However, we need good shop teachers. Many high school students, even bright ones, should be directed towards the skilled trades. The trades can provide rewarding careers, from both the emotional as well as the financial point of view.

College is a waste of time for most people. I went to a so called elite college and it was a big mistake. I have no head for liberal arts schooling. I would rather have learned a trade. If I had entered one of the trades I would be happier today, and I would be earning more money. So, let's get some good shop teachers into our school systems. Let's pay them well. They are worth it.

AMac said at August 30, 2009 4:38 AM:

The prominent ed school idea that has meant most to me is the Whole Language philosophy of reading instruction. Whole Language in its pure form disdains Phonics as rote, repetitive, and repressive. Not to mention that it provides fewer opportunities for enjoyable creativity for classroom teachers. In the 1990s, this inspired a big push to discard outdated Phonics methods and re-envision the elementary school reading curriculum according to Whole Language principals.

A novel pedagogy means opportunities for the education-industrial complex. For aspiring faculty: progressive positions to be taken in groundbreaking journal articles and monographs (tenure, promotion, prestige). For publishers: truckloads of recent but now-worthless textbooks to be carted to the dump, replaced by truckloads of premium-priced new textbooks. For consultants: fertile soil for training seminars.

All well and good, except for the missing question: Does Whole Language work?

Somehow, during its long decline into left-wing slumber, the Baltimore Sun managed to run a series that addressed that question, circa 1998 (now in the pay archives). Short answer: No. Pravda-style, one can reconstruct the objections raised in that series to Whole Language by reading this dreary 1999 ZMag article.

As an elementary school student in Baltimore County schools, my son was in the first wave of guinea pigs for this The-East-Is-Red innovation. He's now a good reader, despite not thanks to. Though I credit Whole Language with helping him become a lifelong poor speller.

Of course, the subsequent turn away from Whole Language meant that truckloads of now-worthless textbooks had to be carted to the dump, replaced by truckloads of premium-priced new textbooks.

It's all good.

Towson (MD) University, with its roots as a teachers' college, hosts Prof. Bess Altwerger, who is still riding the Whole Language hobby horse and inspiring a new generation of IQ 104 student-teachers with its potential for glorious proletarian triumphs against the repression of the patriarchy.

Bess Altwerger is the author or editor of three books with Heinemann: ReReading Fluency (2007), Reading for Profit (2005), and Whole Language: What's the Difference? (1990). She is Professor of Elementary Education and Graduate Reading at Towson University. Bess has worked to develop critical literacy pedagogies that prepare students to build a more just, democratic, and sustainable future. Her current activies are devoted to transforming repressive literacy policies, reprofessionalizing teaching, and returning joy to classrooms.

More Ayers-style Establishment dreariness in Marketing fear in America's public schools: the real war on literacy (2005) by Leslie Poynor and Paula M. Wolfe. Locally, the vanguard may also be inspired by the Teachers Applying Whole Language blog.

It's all good.

Stopped Clock said at August 30, 2009 8:44 AM:

Teaching is 90% social skills and 10% knowledge. Take the average Mozart-playing, book-reading genius and drop him in front of a classroom full of loud rebellious teenagers and see how well he does. And anyone who has both social skills and high IQ will probably want to go to a more rewarding career. Also, yes, blacks are over-represented among public school teachers, even if Mexicans arent, so I think that depresses the average IQ somewhat.

MaryJ said at August 30, 2009 11:15 AM:

AMac: You are so correct about Whole Language. My daughter was subjected to a combination of Whole Language and Phonics techniques when she was learning how to read (I guess her teachers were trying to hedge their bets). Needless to say she was deeply confused. She entered fourth grade without being able to read despite the fact that we are in a "top" school district, for which we shelled out big bucks to live in. I had to hire a tutoring franchise to teach her how to read and they put her on strict phonics and she finally learned to read in the middle of fourth grade.

California is the biggest guinea pig for educational fads like Whole Language. We spend 1/2 of our budget on education and are 49th in educational performance among the states.

Jerry Martinson said at August 30, 2009 1:43 PM:

California has a lot of problems but groups like Mathematically Correct have been working, quite productively, against the problems in math instruction. They've pressured the state into have a fairly reasonable standardize math test, which in turn strongly encourages the schools to drop much of the bizarre experimental curriculum until it is proven to work.

On the debate of phonics versus whole, phonics is better but the debate itself ignores who should be responsible for the child's early education. It is better for parents to teach children to read. Reading instruction is best if it is 1on1 and methodical. If you do this up front, it really won't matter much what kind of Rainbow-Sunshine reading philosophy the local "EdSci collective" is touting. Your children will be immune to reading problems. I almost think that this should be an entrance requirement for Kindergarten. It is unrealistic to expect a teacher to do this 20:1 or 30:1 and provide individualized instruction, especially when 20% of the kids are bouncing off the walls like they are on crack.

There's a book by Siegfried Engelmann called "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". If you do this by the time your kids' start Kindergarten, you have nothing to worry about. Given the normal temperament of children, it takes about 1/2 year to go through it - bedtime 20-30 minute sessions. Several dozen hours of your time in exchange for not ever having to worry about this stuff ever again. Within a couple months of entering kindergarten your kids will be able to devour 2-3 "Magic Tree House" books a week and you'll just need about 20 nights working on "fluency" with easy texts for them. For motivation the "accelerated reader" program with simple candy incentives can guide reading in latter Kindergarten and over the summer.

The big problem with that is unique to American education versus other industrial nations doesn't occur when kids are young though... it happens when children begin to identify more with their peer group friends than they identify with adults. This happens at age 11 or 12.... this is when the US schools start to suck and where we can probably do the most to improve things. Unfortunately, all the focus on school is when the kids are in elementary school... probably because it is when the kids are still cute and the parents haven't yet become self-absorbed in their mid-life crises.

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