High School Teaching and Incoming College Students

An American high school teacher has issued a stern warning to college and university professors: brace yourselves.

Kenneth Bernstein—a recently retired high school teacher of government in the Washington, DC, area—paints a bleak portrait of the incoming college students who are products of the No Child Left Behind program in the United States.


Bernstein begins: “You are a college professor.  I have just retired as a high school teacher. I have some bad news for you. In case you do not already see what is happening, I want to warn you of what to expect from the students who will be arriving in your classroom, even if you teach in a highly selective institution.”

After walking the reader through the details of No Child Left Behind’s requirements and of the demands of teaching to its requirements, Bernstein concludes: “Now you are seeing the results in the students arriving at your institutions. They may be very bright. But we have not been able to prepare them for the kind of intellectual work that you have every right to expect of them. It is for this that I apologize, even as I know in my heart that there was little more I could have done. Which is one reason I am no longer in the classroom.”

Academe, a publication of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), published Bernstein’s essay as “Warnings from the Trenches.” The Washington Post republished his essay online.

NIU students in the Teacher Certification programs in History and other disciplines will want to read this essay, which has already gone viral in the Facebook and blogosphere worlds.

This entry was posted in Careers in History, Education Policy, Humanities Education, Undergraduate Work in History. Bookmark the permalink.

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