I belong to a running group and before I got sick one of my last runs was with a young man who was teaching calculus at the collegiate level. He was telling me about how he was in the impossible position of trying to educate the kids, BUT (are you ready)
the kids were complaining about the difficulty of the course.
Now, it would be at times likes these where previously established standards and criteria would be used to judge whether or not his course was indeed more difficult than other professors. That the dean of the department would look at what topics were being covered and by what stage in the class and then determine if the kids had a legitimate complaint, or were your typical Gen Y type whiners who expect to be given a B+ for having a pulse.
Of course the kids were just complaining and whining because that's how you get what you want nowadays, and my running colleague was not making the class any more difficult than in times past. However, whereas in the past (and by "past" I mean the 1940's) the dean would then side with the teacher, maintaining the educational standards and integrity of the college, this time the dean sided with the students.
According to the professor the dean was concerned about student satisfaction, not to mention that the department received funding based on attendance AND student evaluations of the class. So unhappy students and less students taking calculus = less funding. And thus the emphasis is on making money and NOT giving the kids a good education.
This angered him because he genuinely believed in a good education. He WANTED to teach these kids calculus. However, not only were the students getting in their OWN way of letting this happen, the dean was now coming down on him for daring to hold the students to just a basic standard.
Now I have taught several times before. Twice in college, once as a substitute teacher and once as a tutor (and still teach to this day, but that is adult education which is not the same as what I'm talking here). And if you will permit me to help those of you who are teaching or about to enter teaching or are considering teaching, allow me to give you the single best piece of advice I can possibly give;
Do not worry about the education of your students, only worry about you.
I know this may sound cynical, pessimistic, let alone amoral, and you may be saying, "well, there goes Cappy Cap again, going for shock value and going over the top to make his point," but I'm deadly serious about this.
Do not worry about your students. They are irrelevant. Only worry about you.
You must understand, that at all levels of education, it is no longer about the noble and infinitely important purpose of providing students with a good education. That ship has sailed LONG ago.
"Education" is really nothing more than an act, a play, a theatrical performance to make its participants feel good about themselves. No real production or progress or learning takes place. People just want to go through the motions of "education" so they can get that piece of paper at the end and move on with their lives. And what is happening in reality is this unspoken agreement between the students and the administration of these schools where the students basically PAY to get a degree. The administration sells the degrees and the students buy these degrees.
Now understand there is NO earning the degree. That is NOT what the students are paying for. They are paying for the degree.
Now the problem is you can't have a veritable degree mill where people just walk up to the counter and pay for the degree. Ergo a much more elaborate ruse must be performed where students and colleges feign there is some kind of education going on.
Ergo why you have to perform in a theatrical play for four years acting like you're getting educated.
Understand these are hoops simply there to make it look like it's a legitimate school and that the degree is legitimate. Oh I know they're accredited. I know these are "official" colleges and universities. But forget all that. Just look at the quality and caliber of students coming out of college. They're morons. Complete idiots. Berkeley students think "Benjamin Franklin" was a freaking president. They think $19 trillion is the total bailout bill. And Berkeley is presumably one of the best public schools out there.
Regardless, the problem this presents is that while the students and administration have this unspoken agreement of basically purchasing a degree, the people who are inbetween these two entities are not informed of this agreement; the teachers.
The teachers are the unfortunate souls on the front lines who get the impossible task of reconciling these IRRECONCILABLE goals. They teacher is to somehow "educate" the students, but not make it too hard to the point they might actually learn something, otherwise they'll get fired because the students never really signed up for any kind of rigorous study. Worse still are those naive, idealistic teachers who actually care to go above and beyond and REALLY help educate those kids. Those are the ones who get fired immediately.
Therefore you have two choices.
You can try to be moral and noble and good and actually TRY to teach students. You can do what is in their best interests and give them an education. Unfortunately you WILL be laid off, you WILL be called to the dean's office more often than not, and you WILL never have a long lasting career as a teacher/instructor/professor.
You can just play ball and really lower your standards and pass everybody. In this case, yes the students will learn nothing. And yes, they will go forth and not be able to do any job in the future. And yes, society in the future will pay for it. But you will have a job. You will have a career. You will be a "successful" teacher.
The question is one of really morality, however, I want you to seriously consider the REALITY of the teaching environment we have in the US today.
1. Once these kids move on, they're not your problem. They're their parents' or future employer's problem. Additionally, they don't care about you. They care about getting their B and getting out of your class. You have to ask yourself if these kids REALLY don't care about their education and are just there to get their class to move on, then what do you care? If they want to waste their money, then there is nothing you can do. Why sacrifice a paycheck trying to hold them up to standards?
2. Society, namely lazy parents and a dumbed down K-12 school system that sacrifices educational integrity for the sake of saving little kids' "feelings", is to blame for the impossible position you're in. For God's sake, you have parents going into COMPANIES COMPLAINING TO THEIR CHLIDREN'S BOSSES WHEN THEIR KIDS DON'T GET PROMOTED!? What kind of quality and caliber of students can you possibly expect to have? Additionally you must realize the education establishment has no longer become one of education as much as it has been dealing with failure and making "failure" acceptable. Trying to create a world where standards are non-existent. Once you start rocking the boat by insisting standards be applied, you are no longer working towards that universally unspoken goal. In education YOUR JOB is to make sure people get passed. NOT that they get educated.
3. Think about your personal finances. In the end, nobody is going to come looking for you and say, "my teacher sucked and didn't educate me." Again, they moved on and forgot about you long ago. But you and your little lonesome are NOT going to change this society wide decay of education. All you do in trying to stop it is sabotage your personal finances. Put yourself first, because nobody gives a damn about education.