If you’re tired of people blaming teachers for the country’s educational ills, you may want to avoid this week’s issue of Science magazine. It reports on an extensive study of elementary schools funded by the National Institutes of Health that isn’t exactly glowing in its assessment of teachers’ work. Among other things, according to a summary by USA Today, the researchers say teachers focus too much time on basic reading and math skills and too little on science and social studies, and don’t do enough to engage students or foster critical thinking skills. According to the study, only about 14 percent of elementary school students have a consistently rich “instructional climate” in their classrooms. But are teachers necessarily to blame? Kathy Schultz, director of teacher education at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that the study neglects the larger context in which teachers work, including regulatory mandates that can influence instructional content.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.