Bryan Caplan  

Posner on What Teachers Want

Publishing the Unpublishable P... Financial Commentary...

Here's Richard Posner being unusually blunt and insightful even for him:

From the standpoint of most teachers, right up to and including the level of teachers of college undergraduates, the ideal student is well behaved, unaggressive, docile, patient, meticulous, and empathetic in the sense of intuiting the response to the teacher that is most likely to please the teacher. Those are traits less characteristic of boys than of girls.
I think I'll be quoting this passage in my book on education (currently second in line after this).

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (5 to date)
Ajay writes:

The fact that these traits are what are prized by most dimwit teachers is precisely the reason why the education establishment is doomed, as the most intrinsically valuable traits, that are not being selected for currently, will ultimately win out. Notice that, except for being meticulous, the traits Posner lists are mostly social traits, not intellectual traits that you would think education would be trying to inculcate, giving further evidence for Bryan's thesis that schooling is often mainly an interminable array of hoops for students to jump through in order to signal that they will continue to be obedient drones once they enter the workplace. Combine the sad wreck that the education market currently is, caused mostly by being funded primarily with public money, with revolutionary technologies like the PC and the internet that replace precisely those functions and you can see the great upheaval that is coming. I'm personally looking forward to all the video of nincompoop teachers and administrators at public schools wailing as they get the boot.

I'm confused, are you legitimately planning to write both of these books? They both sound fascinating, but I need to know if I should be eagerly awaiting them in the future.

Tracy W writes:

From a time when corporal punishment was rather more common at schools, but with a message that is still true today:

"It is the duty of the student
Without exception to be prudent
If smarter than the teacher, tact
Demands that he conceals the fact. "- Edward Anthony

meep writes:

That's probably true of those who keep teaching kids. It's the best they think they can hope for.

I just wanted students who wanted to be there, and were willing to learn. I could deal with rowdy. I had a great time with the kids at mathcamp (, who obviously wanted to be there, loved math, and could be pretty raucous. Yes, they were mainly boys, but the girls could be pretty raucous, too. Fab time. Enthusiastic, woo!

Of course, I'm not teaching kids for money any more, but most of the staff members I taught with are still in academia. It's the best teaching experience I've ever had.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top