More (recent) lessons on America’s schools (this example being one of the better ones):
After an interview and teaching a few “test” classes to first- and second-year students, I was hired. Within a few days, however, it was clear that many students did not understand English grammar, much less Latin fundamentals. In response, I taught remedial grammar and outlined how students could pass my course with a “C” or “D.” There were some excellent students, but test scores were not distributed in a bell-shaped curve. It was an “inverted” bell, or bimodal distribution — with scores clumped at the two extremes.
Poor preparation was only the tip of the iceberg. Students did not bring books to class, relentlessly complained about homework, and expected high grades regardless of proficiency. When I asked questions, I uncovered some alarming facts:
- Latin was a dumping ground for students who already had failed another language; “picking up a few phrases” was the goal.
- Many teachers expected little but awarded high grades.
- Students were subjected to parental pressure to obtain good grades regardless of performance.
- A department head had been demoted for teaching at a pre-college level and refusing to lower his standards.
- Senior teachers were dropping out in disgust; younger teachers had no choice but to accept the situation.
- Under parental pressure, the principal was establishing a process to prevent students from having to take more than one test on the same day. College prep?
Tom Ironsides and I can vouch for this collapse. We will. Soon.