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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000755.txt from 1998/04

From: George Kidder <>
Subj: Re: Illinois Music Teachers
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 09:35:34 -0400

>On Tue, 14 Apr 1998, Karen Miner wrote:
>> Illinois General Assembly has passed a bill that is going to eliminate
>> music education as a major or career choice. It says that in order to be
>> able to teach music, one must get a degree in either elementary or
>> secondary education with a teaching specialization in any subject other
>> than the arts, PLUS an endorsement on his or her teaching certificate. This
>> will cause the quality of the arts to plummet.

And Ken Wolman replied:
>How reassuring to know that SOME state legislatures, at least, are
>consistent in going out of their ways to prove that H. L. Mencken
>was right when he described a "booboisie" directing a "Sahara of
>the Boze Arts." I really thought that this vocational school crap
>had been jettisoned years ago: that you had to sit studying
>education theory (but NOT, God forbid, those intellectuals like
>Piaget!) in lieu of mastering your subject matter, be it literature,
>history, music, or the fine arts. You had to be an ED major; you
>needed just enough subject matter knowledge to become dangerous.
As one who is stuck in the "Normal School" environment (although not in
music), I can only agree. What I have to say below won't get me any brownie
points with our administration, but it needs to be said anyway.

>I guess I was wrong about things improving. Ostensibly knowing
>how to teach is more important than WHAT you teach. Thus, everything is
>technique, very little is substance. It's rather like trying to teach an
>impotent man to make love to a woman.
>Back at Hunter College, circa 1963, the surest way to a quick A was
>a 3 credit course in Fundamentals of Education. You spent a semester
>watching movies of chimpanzees masturbating. Sounds rather like the
>Illinois Normal School system....

Things have changed. On this campus as of 5 years ago when I last had
reason to examine the figures, the department with the highest overall GPA
was ... Music! (There are probably some reasons for this, including general
studies courses and the fact that many music courses are really Music Ed.)
However, the blame for this state of things should not be placed on the
legislature alone. Certainly, they see this as a way of cutting education
costs, which is an all-consuming drive with them. But they have been
strongily influenced (for decades) by the professional Education lobby - the
schools of education which see these state requirements as a way to ensure
that they get a sizable chunk of the enrollment, and therefore of the
funding which follows enrollment. And unfortunately, since these are state
requirements for teacher's certificates, even Roger's G's private school
down the road has to comply.

If you want a really radical (although not original) suggestion, try this
one: The qualification for teaching will be a Master's degree in teaching
which follows a bachelor's degree in subject matter, and will thus take 5
years to complete. This will let us teach the subject matter to the best of
our ability, and limit the education school to whatever they can cram into 1
year + one summer. They used to offer such a degree in the 60's at Wesleyan
Univ. (Ct.), but have now dropped it; I never did find out why.

But I wouldn't hold my breath - even circular breathing won't help on this one.

George W. Kidder III
Professor, Dept. of Biology
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-4120
(309) 438-3085

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