Ph.Ds in the High School Classroom

Stanford University will pay for humanities graduate students who want to pursue careers as high school teachers.  Here is a taste of an article at Inside Higher Ed:

The plan consists of a new course offering that will expose graduate students to humanities issues in high school pedagogy and curriculum, and a promise by the School of Humanities and Sciences to fully fund each humanities Ph.D. admitted to the competitive Stanford Teacher Education Program in the Graduate School of Education.

Over at Northwest History, Larry Cebula thinks it is a bad idea:

The Stanford plan is terrible in all kinds of ways. High school social studies jobs are already scarce, and it is not clear if a PhD will make a job seeker more competitive or less. While a broad knowledge is absolutely necessary for a good high school teacher, the hyper-specialization and research focus of a doctoral program is not a path to that broad knowledge. The time commitment is enormous–perhaps 7 or 8 years to the PhD (though Stanford is trying to cut this to 5) and then another 2 for the education degree–for a job that you might have landed with an undergraduate degree. And as a Facebook friend of mine said when I shared the article, “Hope they can coach a sport.”

The real problem of course, is the overproduction of PhDs in humanities fields. Year after year, and despite the warnings, thousands of your people come to places like Stanford to earn a PhD with the unlikely goal of becoming college professors. “The primary goal of Stanford’s Department of History’s graduate program is the training of scholars. Most students who receive doctorates in the program will go on to teach at colleges or universities,” Stanford tells its prospective history graduate students, offering a link to “placements.” The link is broken.

Read Cebula’s entire post here.

3 thoughts on “Ph.Ds in the High School Classroom

  1. Jimmy: I have no doubt that you are correct about Missouri and social studies jobs in general. But over the years we have placed dozens of students in social studies/history jobs in the PA public schools. I honestly can't think of one of them who is coaching.


  2. Cebula's friend hit it dead on the head. I'm tracking high school social studies positions in the state of Missouri over the last year. Only ONE entry has said no coaching with the job. So far this deep into the hiring season the positions with mandatory coaching are even with the possible coaching positions. The ads without any mention of coaching are pretty scare.

    I think this is a case where the ivory tower occupants have lost touch with the reality that is American high school and social studies. It is one of the most abused positions in Missouri and consistently scores the worst on any subject on the MAPP tests.


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