Fun, Amazing, Etc.

This is the official blog of indie author / adventure writer Andy R. Bunch, author of the fantasy book, "Suffering Rancor." As always, I'll post funny or amazing things I find in my travels or from poking around online. This is a great place to kick back and relax a bit. You may note that I’m not too clean or too dirty. For more information on my book, go to Here are links to first two books and

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bad Teachers

I was talking to a teacher this week and the topic of bad teachers came up. I'm pretty passionate about the topic as I've had some really awful ones. Anyway, I thought I'd blog about it. I realized before I can get into what makes a teacher bad, and there's more than one kind of bad, I need to frame my thoughts on bureaucracy.

Bureaucrat wasn't always the curse word it has become. Back in the very beginnings of the industrial revolution you had a small minority of people with collage degrees or professional certification (doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.) and another class of tradesmen who learned their craft through apprenticeship (farmers, bakers, etc.). Then everyone else was a laborer. With the rise of factories the amount of paperwork generated required a new bread of creature. There were trained clerks of course, but there was a need for people understood the work being done by workers and could shuffle the correlating paperwork. With the notion of scientific management came the birth of the bureaucrat.

As time passed certain characteristics of bureaucracy emerged:
1. Anyone could do it as long as they stuck it out long enough to specialize in the task of shuffling that type of paperwork.
2. Because of the investment in time it took to train a good bureaucrat you didn't fire them without a good reason.
3. Conversely, because of the time investment to train a good bureaucrat you didn't promote them out of their spot either.

The reverse logic of bureaucracy:
4. Because of #1 and #2 above job security for a bureaucrat comes from having complicated paperwork to shuffle that no one else understands.
5. Because of #3 above, the only path to promotion is:
a. stay in your job a long time
b. create problems so complex you need more bureaucrats beneath you to manage the problem.

In short, with bureaucrats knowledge is power. Bureaucrat A can't make Bureaucratic B do his job because of #1 above. But if Bureaucrat B needs something from Bureaucrat A he can manipulate B into doing what he wants. Now this is the exact opposite of a healthy working environment. But its how government and large corporations work.

So what does this have to do with Teachers? Well even with the heavy involvement of government in schools you'd still think it wouldn't penetrate all the way out to teachers. Apparently it does because I can't think of another reason why teachers would work so hard to make the information at the heart of a course so difficult for students to learn.

Type 2 Bad Teachers
The 2nd type of bad teacher is the type of teacher that actively prevents learning. People want to learn. We enjoy it. Especially when we are young. I actually think our desire to gossip is a warped form of our desire to learn things we don't know yet and teach those things to others. Seriously, students want to learn.

Wait! What happened to type 1 bad teachers? Well Type 1's are just not good at it. They either don't understand the information themselves and shouldn't be teaching it, or they don't know how to organize it in a fashion that students can assimilate. Type 1's can be called incompetent, which is a sin, but not really malevolent.

When I'm talking about bad teachers I'm starting with Type 2's. The kind that, through some flaw of personality, actively hide information of the course from the pupil. They use these techniques to do it:
1. Fail to explain the material
2. Focus exclusively on unimportant and uninteresting information
3. Give assignments from the reading (which is always poorly written) and never lecture at all.

Type 3 Teachers (abusive)
Even though the bureaucratic teacher actively hides information from the students they still aren't the worst kind of teacher. The worst kind are the type 3's. These teachers don't hoard information to feel powerful, the hoard it to put the student under them.

You might think I'm exaggerating but there are more Type 3's than you think. Think back to your school experiences and see if these tactics sound familiar:
1. Test over information that wasn't in the reading or lecture
2. Punish entire class because of the actions of a student so the class will censure the student for them.
3. Never answers policy questions to the group, only one on one. (guess why they need to be alone.)
4. Can't be nailed down on policy. Changes student syllabus throughout the term.
5. Applies rules unequally.
6. Does everything the bureaucratic teacher does as well
7. Wants work outside of class to get an A
8. Verbally discourages or disparages students

I've had a few teachers exhibit some of these behaviors but I've had two at the collage level who exhibited all 8. There are sociopaths out there, but the ones that work there way into government, law enforcement, and education tend to be the most destructive. Students don't always know how to express their pain. They can't always give you actionable behaviors to record a pattern of abuse. We need to listen, carefully to nebulous terms like "bad" and ask questions like, "bad in what way?"

No comments: