Every time I hear or read someone say that education is in the state it is now, because of bad teachers, I want to yell! I mean how many Great teachers are getting demonized and how many great teachers are not choosing teaching as a career because of this misguided and misinformed discussion.
if we are being honest, a handful at most, unmindful, mis-taught, bored, or bad teachers are working in each school. I really hate that we have made teachers into a faceless nameless storyless mass and even more that the students that they teach are disregarded and often dehumanized to the point of being mere ideas.
We need to change the conversation or even open the conversation. My goal for the next year is to make a point to question the idea of bad teachers as ruining education. The act of demonizing teacher will do nothing but harm learning and growth in this country.
One way I see to do this is the next time someone tells you or me that bad teachers need to be fired or are ruining the system….
Ask them “What is a bad teacher?” “How would you define it? ” and then actually have a conversation about what that means?
Do we truly believe that teachers or even some teachers are working in schools to hurt children or make sure they don’t learn…. I mean really, If we look back at our own experience…. the problem was not merely that they were bad but instead had to do with use of authority, disrespect, lack of passion, lack of understanding of the different ways we learn, lack of love of learning…..and of all the teachers I had over the years, I could name my a handful or two who were really bad teachers.
Could a lot of my teachers have improved or grown in their craft, sure….but most of the big reformers today or the conversation in general is not about helping teachers improve their craft, it is about firing them…. and replacing them with some kind of “Superman” who knows what he or she is doing and is perfect. But this superman is often not someone who is truly a great teacher, but someone who has mastered the art of schooling, they figured out how to make the current system of transmission work for them, to get the best grades and pass the Standardized test and tell the supposedly good teachers what they want to hear…..but as Paula has so easily point out…. you need more than good schooled teachers, you need reflective, mindful, flexible teachers.
We need the type of Teachers who do not see learning as something to “do” to children or a skill to be learned, but instead see learning as the act of living and that children “come to school wanting to learn” and that we are in schools to help harvest that energy and passion not control it to get this or that outcome.
Teaching is an Art! Learning is the act of living and we are all in it together.
Please help me fight the habit of mind that encourages people to generalize about what truly can not be generalized, the relationship of People! and then as a act of positivity send them to Paula White’s blog or other great teachers blogs, (or any teacher’s blog) because she is a great teacher and showcasing teachers that are models of excellence will only help to change the conversation! Or better yet, ask them to volunteer in a classroom, or visit a school or talk to teachers…. Or even better yet, Have them ask a teacher what they can do to better their craft and how they might be able to help. Transformation happens not just by naming or demonizing the problems but by acting on and being the change!