Who am I?

  • I’m currently a math teacher, in my third fourth fifth year of teaching. I am credentialed in other subjects as well. I’ve taught at 3 4 schools including the one I spent a year at as a student teacher.
  • I was, and am, a private tutor and test prep instructor in every major test except the MCAT. I worked for multiple companies and private clients simultaneously, tutoring in all academic subjects except science.
  • I have extensive experience working with Asian American high schoolers of all abilities, white students from fifth grade through high school of all abilities, Hispanic high schoolers of all abilities. I have experience working with African American high schoolers of all abilities, but the sample size is much smaller; there just aren’t a lot of African Americans in my area.
  • I’m a parent. I was a suburban parent of an originally under-achieving son long before I became a teacher and, as a teacher, I am extremely sensitive to the aggravations of the suburban parent.
  • I have two Master’s degrees, neither of which I found terribly difficult, and I do not do well in formal education.
  • Neither of my parents graduated from college, and I am the only college graduate of their four children. Only one of my uncles or aunts is a college graduate, and only 4 of my 21 cousins. My grandfather was a college graduate, and my son will be. Real. Soon. Now. has an Economics degree. (whoohoo!) We’ve all done quite well for ourselves, with or without college degrees. My attitude towards education is best described as utilitarian. I snicker when people speak of the joys of lifelong learning as a goal for the general population.
  • I’ve been registered as a Republican since 2000, although the first time I voted for a Republican presidential candidate was 2008. I’m not conservative–I say that not in disdain, merely to ensure understanding. I am not a fan of the left; I have disliked and in many cases despised it long before I registered as a Republican. The best way to describe my political outlook would be “Skeptic”.
  • My content knowledge is pretty extensive. To put it in measurable terms, here are the scores I would receive if I took the following college admissions tests:
    • AP English Lang/Lit or Lang/Comp: 5
    • AP US History, World History, European History, Government: 5
    • AP Calculus: 3 cold, 4 if I studied for a week, 5 if I ever went and actually learned calculus.
    • Subject Tests in English Lit, Math 2c, US History, World History: 800

    My IQ, for what it’s worth, is somewhere above 3SD, but my spatial and visual abilities are much weaker than the other tested IQ areas, which holds me back in really advanced math*. GRE scores 800 Q/780 V (and the V is much, much more impressive than the Q, really).

    I am, in short, pretty smart. No one knows better than I do that “smart” and $4 gets you a large latte at Peets. Smart is useful to me, but I don’t feel even slightly superior. I am one of the many under-achieving white folk of the world.

    Added 9/13/2013:
    Every so often some naysayer links in this post pointing to this bullet as evidence that I’m some sort of Mensa-obsessed IQ nut. Do these people not read the following paragraph? Good lord.

    I write about cognitive ability and its apparent lack of relevance in teaching outcomes. I also accept as given cognitive ability’s tremendous impact on educational, financial, and life outcomes. If I didn’t mention my intellect, the same people who snark at this post would be demanding I throw down on IQ. So I oblige them, and take away all their fun.

    But I’m also Exhibit A for those who point out that IQ isn’t everything, or I’d be accruing more assets than I can acquire teaching, blogging, eating great food, drinking good beer, and watching reruns of NCIS or Bones. I raised a kid, I didn’t work really hard, and I like what I do—and everything I’ve achieved in my life has been easier because I’m smart. I am, however, evidence that high IQs aren’t all running the world, saving the world, or making the world really rich. I’m absolutely fine with that.

  • For most of my working life I was self-employed or a contract worker. I liked it. Still do; I have several part-time jobs.
  • I like to argue about interesting topics. I find almost everything interesting.
  • I have to fight the urge to smack people who declare that reading is objectively superior to watching TV or movies.
  • “You were right” are words I get a lot. If only people delivered them more in the present tense, and took my advice first. Alas.
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About educationrealist


18 responses to “Who am I?

  • Lover of Wisdom

    I like your blog. Keep up the good work!

  • bernie1815

    Hi:
    I just found your blog and I am very intrigued. I found your blog by chance: I am reading Pasi Sahlberg’s Finnish Lessons and I was looking for current data on any standardized tests taken by primary and secondary school teachers. So here I am. I have a bunch of questions to share particularly related to the performance levels of the OECD sponsored PISA measures and the impact of teacher quality on learning outcomes. If you are interested in chatting further please drop me a line.

    Best wishes,
    Bernie

    P.S. I am retired now from management consulting, but I spent my professional career doing various kinds of data analysis, psychometric research and large scale survey design and analysis. For the record my GREs, taken in 1972, were Q 770, V 690. Being a Brit this was the first and only time I ever took a standardized test.

  • Steven Slaughter

    Hi There. Found your blog by chance while searching for “Twelfth Night lesson plans”. I am currently a middle school language arts teacher in Nairobi, Kenya. Just moved here from Chicago a month ago. I had been teaching 5th grade, so I never used the class set of the play (NFS), I brought it along with me, despite the weight investment in my luggage, hoping that maybe I could do it with my 8th graders. These students are from all over the world. Their reading level tends to be at grade level, with a few who struggle a bit more. Probably similar to yours, with some very high and others at around 6th gr. level. I like a lot of what you did with the play. I’ve never taught Shakespeare before, so it’s a bit daunting to dive into. More than anything, I want them to enjoy the unit and not give them a bad taste in their mouths about Shakespeare generally. Your fun, interactive lessons seem to go a long way in this direction. On the page with your lesson plan summaries, there is a sort of slideshow of the working documents. Do you have those as a PDF or Word file?

    Thanks again,
    Steven Slaughter
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

  • bronxboy55

    I’m wondering what caused your son to go from under-achiever to soon-to-be college graduate. (Congratulations to both of you, by the way.)

  • robin claire

    I am a former Atheist and am interfacing with another person of my former persuasion at the moment. It’s been very stimulating. Anyway, as a result of my interactions with this person, I am asking a question on my latest post that I would like other Atheists to look at. I’m not getting many responses so I thought I’d request some.

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  • Labropotes

    Ed Real,

    Your blog is great. I looked for a way to email you but didn’t see one. I’m writing to suggest a topic. I was an actuary for 15 years and now I write simple programs for an insurance company. In both these fields women are underrepresented. This makes sense to me as women tend to under perform. But, similar to the stress around IQ and student performance, this difference is always attributed to an exclusive male culture, to sexism.

    But a typical assignment is, “Say, write a program that will convert this old database into our new format. Thanks!” A manager only wants employees that deliver and has no reason to select on gender. But we end up trying to keep a dame or two involved all the time, even if they can’t help.

    So the topic is, is the scarcity of women in certain professions the result of sexism or aptitude? It may be too far from your bailywick.

    There’s no reason to post this comment, but you can.

    Labropotes

    PS, I was a math teacher for a year in Honduras to grades 6 through 11. Difficult and unrewarding job. Out of about 100 students, 10 learned some math. I had no training or support as a teacher, so I likely sucked. I found the most productive use of our time in math class was to tell them about things they found fascinating, like curious science a la EO Wilson or Feynman. Recounting stories from Homer or the Bible was pretty popular. You tell your class that there’s a story in the Bible where a baby is cooked and eaten, and you’ve got their attention.

  • Billy W.

    Why do you have an urge to smack people who point out that reading is superior to watching TV or movies? Please answer, I like your blog so far but I do think reading books is superior to reading blogs, so I might not waste my time anymore.

    • educationrealist

      Do what you like. You misquoted me.

    • Robert Evans

      ‘Subjectively’ reading was inferior for me because I spent my time reading SciFi and Fantastic Fiction. I read so much I learned to skim fiction works very well. Unfortunately the skimming that works well with fiction works is very, very counterproductive for reading non-fiction works (such as textbooks). Undoing the harm of these counter-productive reading skills is something I never learned how to do. (I probably could learn how to do it, but it would take a significant piece of time, because it involves secondary characteristics such as boredom thresholds now.)

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  • Sarah

    I would like to email you but am unable to locate your email address.

  • SSF

    Hello,
    I actually discovered this blog by reading your comments on Steve Sailer’s website. I am interested in starting a career in education, so I am really excited to learn more from you. Can you give someone like me any advice for starting out? -(Besides the usual “Don’t do it!”)…
    Take care and thank you!

  • surfer

    You should like a really cool guy, kudos. Will go through and read the blog and make some comments. Please don’t let any of them get you down–sometimes I am a little harsh or am just trying out an idea.

    For example: One thing I wonder is why are you teaching in an at risk HS? I am finally old enough to realize that I won’t conquer the world nor will most of us. Not expecting some superstar salary gig, but I just wonder with all your varied background, why take on the aggravation? Why not just do computer programming or such?

    I do see the attraction of teaching in general, but is it really fun when your students are not bright? When there are all the hassles of modern public schools (discipline, edubabble curricula, etc)?

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