Response to Minster’s pedagogy

While I agree with Brandon Minster’s statement “education in our nation is a shambles,” I cannot reach his conclusion in regards to education professionals.

Perhaps this is the English major in me, but I believe that words only have the power that we, as speakers, give them.

The word “teacher” implies teaching — it is rather nonsensical to separate “actor” from action.

If the point was to make cracks at the expense of professional educators, then call them “instructors” or “professors” for clarity. As Mr. Minster pointed out, even parents can be teachers.

I will concede all too willingly that the content that educators lecture on may not qualify as teaching, but that issue has more to do with curriculum building and school boards than teachers themselves.

Now, as to this stance Mr. Minster has taken regarding the “myth” of educators sacrificing for their pupils, I almost cannot fathom such an outlook. To begin with, even primary education positions require a bachelor’s degree, most states require a master’s to teach high school and don’t even think about teaching post-secondary without a doctorate.

Education professionals are, with good reason, some of the most educated people in their given fields.

Why compare education graduates to education professionals? This notion does not hold water.

Turning to your hard proof, I concede the veracity of Mr. Landsburg’s statistics on face, but I disagree in application. It makes little difference whether teachers come from the upper quartile or lower quartile — standardized qualifications are all the weeding-out I require.

Besides, many people who end up teaching major in something other than education, usually in the subject they want to teach. So these sorts of statistics don’t account for everyone who ends up in the field; it’s pure crockery.

My last point about this supposed myth of public school education is this: Can you do better? Education positions in this nation are under-filled, underpaid and, most of all, desperately needed!

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development down-voted the U.S. from first in education to 14th in December. The nation has also fallen from second to 13th in college-level education over the past 15 years.

So if you’re really that disgusted with teachers, become one yourself and save us the bellyaching. That, or lobby for greater funding.

Patrick Scanlan

A side effect of smoking
In response to a recent article in Broadside about the debate over smoking on campus, I think it would be helpful to point out something that many people are not willing to say.
As a former smoker who has retained a sense of smell, I’ve found it extremely disturbing when someone who smokes before class sits near me in the classroom. They stink!
The intense smell of cigarettes is both annoying and sickening. Naturally it’s reasonable to assume that they don’t know they smell bad or else they wouldn’t do it. Who wants to smell bad?
Unfortunately, telling someone they stink is not as easy as it sounds. It’s deeply humiliating for someone to point out that you have a bad odor and that it’s affecting others. Natural psychology will resist this perception. “It’s not me who stinks — it’s the other guy!” I think students who smoke need to be made aware — respectfully but constantly — that when they smoke before class, stewing in cigarette smoke, they smell terrible.
This smell is discomforting to those around them and it’s not unreasonable to say, “Hey, maybe you could not smoke right before you come into class.” Professors should include such statements in their outlines and not be afraid to tell a student.
Regrettably, if someone does smoke before class regularly, there may be no other option but to tell them, politely and respectfully, that “it’s nothing personal but your cigarette smoke is really awful and distracting in class. Could you sit somewhere else?”
Jonathan Posey
Psychology and Engineering

Brandi Morehead’s column is too sexually open

I am writing in reference to your column “Everybody Loves Morehead.” I first read this column in the Feb. 28 issue of Broadside.

Broadside is a student publication and intended for students. I admire its free discussion of many points of view and its reporting. But one can disagree with its decision to publish such sexually open comments, even if written as a kind of fun-pleasure exploration, even if humorously intended by Ms. Morehead and even if perceived as entertaining by many of its readers.

I am a 64-year-old auditing student, a pediatrician and a heterosexual male who has been married for 39 years to the same woman. Therefore, I have experienced sexuality for more years than most students and I have experienced monogamous fidelity in sexuality more years than most students. My belief and experience is that sex is very good, that it is enjoyable and that it is most happily and pleasurably enjoyed in a trusting, enduring and faithful relationship.

Discussing this issue with staff members of Broadside, I gained insight into acceptable standards of local culture at George Mason University. I gather that “casual sex” is not that uncommon and that it is not frowned upon.

But students may do well to consider the emotional and psychological — acknowledged of unacknowledged — after-effects of “casual sex.” Do you know how many students have sought treatment for STDs, pregnancy, abortion counseling or painful emotional consequences of broken “casual” relationships?

I also suggest that students consider whether “openness” to “whatever” is a viable life option. If and when you are married and have children, will you still be open to a spouse’s suggestion for other sexual encounters? Do you think that your children will have no opinion on this? If you are not open to genocide, rape, cruelty to animals or polluting our planet, then you yourself are making value judgments. You cannot be open to everything. Usually, we are most open to what most pleases us or what we wish to rationalize.

Ron Bashian
Retired Pediatrician
Auditing Student