Teacher incompetence is a major issue that faces many school systems, students and parents. The theory of incompetence states that personality flaws are at the root of an educator's incompetence and that an incompetent educator is simply not suited to teaching. Recognizing characteristics of incompetent educators is an important aspect of improving the education system.

Illegal Activities

Incompetence and the participation in illegal activities are often related. Participation in an illegal activity falls under the umbrellas of ethical, administrative and personal incompetence. A teacher's involvement in any illegal activity, such as drug use, theft or public intoxication, violates a standard expected of a professional educator. When illegal activity is discovered, the teacher's judgment and moral code is questioned.


Abuse, whether physical, emotional or verbal, should never be tolerated in any school system. One characteristic of an incompetent teacher is abuse toward co-workers, superiors or students. Abuse falls under the ethical and personal levels of incompetency. Abuse definitions can range from simply being indifferent towards a student all the way to actual physical abuse. Obviously, if proof of physical abuse exists, an educator would be immediately fired, but some levels of abuse are a bit more difficult to prove and discipline. Abuse can be something as simple as ignoring a student or making fun of a student's work (or the actual student) in class. Not being aware and considerate of a student's feelings further illustrates a level of incompetence.


One sign of an incompetent teacher is the display of a general lack of professionalism. Dressing and speaking inappropriately can signal incompetence. This shows a lack of respect for the norms and rules set and expected of educators. A lack of professionalism is indicative of administrative incompetency, as it often results in the breaking of rules. By being unprofessional, a teacher fails to meet the standards already set.


Apathy toward work is indicative of boredom and incompetency. If a teacher is not concerned with the the needs of the students, the students' education will suffer. Apathy is a form of technical and productive incompetence and can be inter-related with other issues. Apathy can be linked to other deficiencies, such as a lack of organization and planning. Losing students' work, failing to grade papers on time and being late are all results of apathy. If a student senses apathy within a teacher, the student can become apathetic as well. Once the students stop caring, learning is hindered.

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