Date: Oct 2, 2012 3:52 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: US teachers are overworked and underpaid

On Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 11:16 AM, Paul Tanner <> wrote:

> Quote: "American teachers spend on average 1,080 hours teaching each
> year. Across the O.E.C.D., the average is 794 hours on primary
> education, 709 hours on lower secondary education, and 653 hours on
> upper secondary education general programs."
> As what I cited shows, the average US schoolteacher has to perform
> roughly 50% more teaching hours per year than the average
> schoolteacher of the entire OECD.

That's interesting. Given US is generally recognized as a low
performing low IQ state (judging from its general behavior in the
world), one wonders why these increased hours don't translate to
better performance. The divide and conquer answer involves pitting
students against teachers by blaming one or the other, but as we all
know from my track record, I tend to blame the publishers or rigging
the system to move text books on economic grounds, with an historical
bias in favor of larger states such as California and Texas. The
reason Americans are so dumb in STEM subjects is because certain
economic arguments have the ear of Congress whereas the STEM teachers
themselves are consistently ignored and left to squabbling amongst

> And let's look at the highest performing countries in the world on
> international tests:
> For the average schoolteacher in Japan, Finland, and Korea, three of
> the world's highest scoring countries on recent international tests,
> the number of teaching hours per year are only about 600, 600, and 550
> respectively, roughly only half the teaching load of the average
> American schoolteacher. For France, which scored highest in the world

I'm guessing they have more effective methods plus a cultural context
in which students see having a safe space to study as a privilege that
goes away after awhile. You have a harder time reaping the benefits
if you squander your youth on non-productive activities. Building
skills and staying more or less even with your peers, give or take, is
the name of the game.

In the US, you have huge spans of land and thousands of demographic
groups with differing attitudes and school, boarding school, Bible
camp, scouting, social service, church attendance, family obligations
and so on. So many different ethnicities. Generalizations are
difficult as anecdotal exceptions to just about every story readily
come to mind.

The scenario wherein under-served primarily Spanglish-speaking
students pull themselves up by their own bootstraps to become national
contenders on the calculus scene, is reminiscent of the plot in
'Resolved', a true story about a team from non privileged origins
making it to the top of the debating world, as champions. You can
watch the preview here:

> in TIMSS Advanced with a coverage index of roughly 20% when it
> participated back in 1995, that number is roughly only 620 teaching
> hours per year.
> Question: What do tutoring industries have to do with why these
> countries and essentially the entire OECD work their schoolteachers
> less - and even much less - than the US works its schoolteachers in
> terms of teaching hours per year?

I'm not sure how time / hours is measured in all these places and is
the measuring technique uniform? When teachers grade large stacks of
paper at home, do they clock and and clock out? Do we count time
doing extra-curricular activities such as debating team? Some of our
hardest working teachers at Cleveland High School are the ones who
participate in speech and debate related activities. This is what has
replaced civics. The fact that civics is now extra-curricular may not
be the case in these other schools in other countries. Teachers may
need less time doing supplementary activities because the curriculum
itself is more down to business and focused where it needs to be.

I'd like to get similar statistics about students. If a STEM student
is not learning any programming language skills through the school,
and is undertaking that on his or her own, or as an outside activity
with peers, than that's time away from school that should be counted,
just like grading papers on the teacher side.

My guess is students put in way more hours learning than many of their
counterparts outside the US, but a lot depends on what we count as
"learning time". Watching educational YouTubes such as Khans would
count. Time at an SAT coaching school would count.