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Educational Arm Chair Quarterbacks

Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology


education and arm chair quarterbacks

A Definition

Collins Dictionary defines the term arm chair quarterback in this way: a person who is not a quarterback who offers opinions and criticisms on those who are. In other words, they think they know more than the actual players and coaches.

When I was teaching in Korea, we had a lot of 20-something arm chair quarterbacks who were fresh out of college and felt that they knew better how to run the education arm of the Korean government. Even though the Koreans had been educating their people for 5000 years.

These arm chair quarterbacks kept saying that the Korean educational system was broken. They would openly criticize their co-teachers and other Korean education officials and continue to trumpet their mantra.

Sadly, these critics of the Korean and other educational systems, never put their money where their mouths were. They just continued to complain while cashing their paychecks every month.

No New System

For years we long termers had to put up with these complaints. We knew that these complaints were echoed around the world by many people who were either disgruntled over their supposed bad educational systems or had no real experience teaching.

We also knew that there is only one real educational system possible. Teachers teach, and students learn. There is no other system that can be employed to fix the allegedly broken system.

This system has been in place since the beginning of time and greater minds over the eras have failed to improve on it.

What Is Broken

What made it hard to teach in Korea was that these fresh new graduates felt that they learned everything there was to educating students in their 4 short years of university. They felt their professors were the experts and had the only way to teach.

This attitude caused a lot of problems for more experienced teachers as Koreans wanted to teach their fellow citizens in the best manner possible. They would often adopt new strategies because a westerner had brought it with them. Rarely were those new strategies tested and proven to be good.

We who knew how education was designed to be, often had arguments with our co-teachers over how English classes should be conducted. We suffered greatly because the inexperienced thought they knew better than the experienced.

In reality, what was, and still is, actually broken is the methodology in which education is delivered to the students. Methodology is very subjective and does not fit every teacher’s personality. What will work for one teacher will not work for another because each teacher has their own ideology, their own ideas of what is important and how that information should be communicated.

While there is no perfect methodology to education, the failure to educate does not provide evidence that the system is broken. The methodology may be in error but not the system.

Too Many Cooks

One problem Western and Korean teachers faced was that every time there was a new election, a new person was appointed the head of the Federal or Provincial education ministry. Each one wanted to put their own stamp on education and it became a nightmare for the schools.

When you add in local school district heads, principles and vice-principles, teaching the right way became lost in a myriad of opinions and criticisms. Parents are not to be left out here either.

Everyone had their own ideas about how students were to be educated. If the students failed to learn it was not entirely their fault. They probably suffered from more confusion than the educators did.

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There were just too many people trying to get their ways of educating into the schools. The complaints of the newbies did not help matters at all as they were just one more voice in the crowd of voices arguing for their way.

What Made Education Worse

Was not just the confusion from so many voices advocated for different strategies, target goals, or methodologies. It was the failure of the educational arm chair quarterbacks to go out and prove to the world that they had a better system.

They refused to start their own schools, plan the budget, write curriculums, recruit students and set salaries, among other educational details. They also failed to show that their educational material was best.

They just liked pointing the finger, say there is a problem and never stopped collecting their salary or changed jobs. This does not help especially when those arm chair quarterbacks are new to education or want to promote their personal ideologies over educating the students properly.

Educational arm chair quarterbacks can be found anywhere in and out of education. They just think they have a better way. Yet when push comes to shove, their ideas were old and discarded long ago when found not to be successful.

Is There a Solution?

That is hard to say because it is very difficult to keep people from having their different opinions about how students should be educated. Unfortunately, there will always be an educational arm chair quarterback thinking they know better than those actually involved in teaching.

One solution is not to solely blame the teachers. While some are to blame, true education does not rest entirely on their shoulders. Most likely we need to go back to the basics and educate without ideology influencing the teacher’s material or teaching methods.

We may find that we need many solutions until we can get back to the ay education should be conducted

Some Final Words

The act of educating opens the door to the power and control that comes with educating others. Educational officials, school administration teachers and others have a lot of power and control over the students. When misused it causes a lot of problems for everyone involved.

That power and control over others is a very strong temptation to withstand and leads many officials, etc., down the wrong educational paths. To educate properly, the teachers, principals on up, must set the right example. They have to get that temptation under control.

They cannot do that if they let wrong ideology influence their thinking nor if they listen to inexperienced arm chair quarterbacks. They have to start with themselves and get integrity and character which are supported by the truth and honesty, if they want to educate better.

Education doesn’t need a chorus of arm chair quarterbacks sounding off on how teachers should teach. It needs strong men and women to stand tall and set the right example so everyone knows how education should be done.

© 2018 David Thiessen


David Thiessen (author) from Philippines on December 10, 2018:

I hope so.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 10, 2018:

I am sure that teachers I know in the UK would agree with a lot of what you say.

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