Skip to comments.Professor must take GCSE to teach in his school
Posted on 10/12/2004 6:07:13 AM PDT by tjwmason
A former professor of physics who has contributed experiments to the international space programme has been told he is not suitably qualified to teach the subject in a state school.
David Wolfe, who ran the physics department of a large American University, must go back to school to take a maths GCSE or leave the school where he has taught for three years.
Sixth-formers at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, Bucks, voted Mr Wolfe the most inspirational teacher last year and his subject is so popular that nearly a third of the 450-strong sixth form are studying it at A-level.
But the American professor who has retired to England has been told that his qualification - a PhD in physics from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight Ivy League schools - is not sufficient.
Mr Wolfe does not want to take exams and submit himself to assessment at the age of 65 and says he teaches because he loves the job and wants to give something back to society.
He is making a stand against the red tape and inflexible rules which also prevent the headmaster of Westminster, one of the leading independent schools, from teaching maths in the state system on his retirement from a distinguished career in education.
Tristam Jones-Parry, 57, has complained that he will either have to retrain or work as an unqualified teacher at a reduced salary before he can "give a bit back in a state school".
Boys at the Royal Grammar School have drawn up a petition which was sent to David Miliband, the school standards minister, complaining at the way Mr Wolfe was being treated.
Tim Dingle, the headmaster, says that if the rules are not changed he will be prepared to break them by continuing to employ Mr Wolfe.
"David Wolfe is the most inspirational and highly qualified teacher of physics I have ever seen," said Mr Dingle, who has taught in both independent and state schools.
"The country is desperately short of physics teachers and schools can't get them despite all the incentives handed out by the Government.
"I am incensed by the inflexibility of the rules and by the fact that David Miliband has refused to even consider making an exception for this extremely talented physicist and teacher.
"He was the head of the physics department of the University of New Mexico containing 80 physicists, including Nobel prize winners. He is an expert on nuclear and particle physics and has been involved in space research. But the General Teaching Council wants him to take a maths GCSE."
A report by the Institute of Physics this year said two thirds of secondary school physics teachers taking GCSE classes did not have a related degree and 29 per cent did not even have an A-level in the subject. Mr Wolfe says he is determined to have his qualifications recognised.
"It is quite ludicrous to expect me to take an exam for 16-year-olds. I love teaching and I don't want to give it up but it would be humiliating to have to submit myself to assessors much younger and less experienced."
Mr Wolfe came to England because he "loves the country". He is fluent in Russian and Swedish and teaches both in his spare time at the school.
Parents of pupils at the school have contacted Paul Goodman, the Conservative MP for Wycombe, who has urged Mr Miliband to make the teacher a special case or revise the rules.
Tim Collins, the shadow education spokesman, wants Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, to order an urgent review of the requirements. "Red tape and inflexible restrictions must not be allowed to discourage men and women of talent and experience," he said.
The Teacher Training Agency said Mr Wolfe could use the fast-track route to qualified teacher status, which requires the submission of a portfolio of evidence. Assessors from a teacher-training college would then watch him teach. "GCSE maths is required but there is an equivalence test which he could use to prove that his US qualifications reach the same standard," a spokesman said.
Things like this make me want to bash my head against a brick wall.
Oh I forgot. For non-Brits who don't know what a G.C.S.E. is, they are exams taken at the age of 16 which can be passed by pretty much anybody with the brain-power of an amoeba. This is ridiculous petty bureaucracy.
Am I to understand that a teacher is required to KNOW SOMETHING before being allowed to teach?? This is an outrage. It will wreck the public school system. We're going to have a union meeting this very afternoon to whine about it.
you have it wrong --this IS the union at work - creating a requirement that forced one to go throught thie propoganda brainwashing tactics in order to teach it to the masses through public skulz - just like in the usa
After the law firm I was working for dissolved, I looked into teaching history or English in the City of Atlanta public schools.
I'm not in the same league as Dr. Wolfe, but I do have an honors undergraduate degree in history from an Ivy League school and a law degree, and taught as an adjunct professor at my law school.
But according to the City of Atlanta I was UNQUALIFIED to teach, because I have not taken courses in "education" . . . despite the fact that I was actually teaching at the university level.
I gave it up as a bad job and found another position in the judicial system.
Stories like this abound. I know a retired Army Bird Colonel of Engineers who couldn't get on to teach maths in the city public schools either. He could teach a horse to cha-cha, he's that talented. But they don't want him because he doesn't have a "teaching degree".
And they wonder why the kids aren't learning anything.
Why should he be any different?
About 20 yrs. ago, I looked into getting a Master in Library Science (would be called Informational Studies, nowadays) while we were living in NJ. I had a BA in Latin American Studies with a Minor in Spanish and Business, but I would have had to re-do my BA in order to get a major in a single subject, like History or English, and take all the 'Education' courses before I could even take any graduate level classes. These requirements were in place, even though at the elementary and middle school levels, there were no "History" teachers, just "Social Studies" teachers, who taught all the things I'd studied for my major!!
I think, as in this story, the unions have a lot to do with what is 'acceptable' in schools, and have made it difficult for people with degrees in a subject, but without having gone through the indoctrination of an 'Education School', to get jobs teaching. Folks are decrying the shortage of teachers in the Sciences and Math, but there are folks who have advanced degrees and could teach the subjects, but don't have the necessary 'qualifications' as set forth by the Teacher's unions.
It's their private fiefdom for the purpose of jobs and prestige (educating the children comes in a distant third, if it's even considered at all.)
Can't let somebody in who might upset the apple cart by actually teaching something and getting the children all excited about learning. The deadwood timeserving teachers might actually have to WORK . . . .
And yes, yes, I'm sure there are SOME good teachers out there in the public school system. But I haven't met any of them. All the good teachers around here take LESS pay to teach in the private schools, where they are actually allowed to teach and have students who actually want to learn.
Yes. By getting his PhD at fully-accredited schools, he has been tested a kazillion times at all levels. That's what his whole education was, a series of tests that he successfully completed.
My dad went through a similar humiliation. He held a PhD from Johns Hopkins in English. After retiring as a Prof. of English, he became bored, and decided to teach
creative writing at a junior college.He was told he lacked
certain "education" requirements. By the way, my dad later told me the woman who turned him down was illiterate:)
Yes. Education courses are the worst. They are all the psychobabble jargon classes with all the touchy-feely, make a list garbage.
The dirty little secret is that brilliant men such as these make the administrators feel like the inferior specimens they usually are, not to mention how intimidated the other teachers would be by these high-calliber instructors!
As a retired HS teacher, I can vouch for those required Education courses not being worth a bucket of warm spit. I sat through them ruminating on whether the course material made the professors so mind-numbingly dull or whether they were dull to start with and gravitated to such course material.
Extraordinary. I would have expected her to denounce you profanely, and to fail you for the course.
She couldn't, really. Her education department chairman had been both a personal and professional friend of my mother for over 30 years.
Yep! Been there, saw that.
I have absolutely no doubt your father's story is 1000% correct.
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