My hope in starting this blog was to spark some authentic debate among readers. I was delighted when Steve Kane threw down a strong opinion on my post “What About Alejandro?” Here’s his comment:
“yup – our notions of a “good teacher” are just outmoded, sentimental, fuzzy and useless unless that person also produces measurable results
i humbly submit that libraries and the internet are for individual betterment — for the person who wants to expand their horizons and explore the world thru texts and images or just explore. wander in, wander out. think about math, or think about wheel of fortune, whatever.
but schools are created for society’s betterment, not for any individual’s well being. schools are for the collective shaping of young people and other students into (what we hope are suitable) citizens and effective competitors in the real world of employment and comfort. and the price of failure is that the collective society has to support those who can’t successfully compete, whether thru charity or government programs or emergency rooms. and i think we all — even the most disenfranchised — want to have a system that creates the fewest number of indigents?
“Ben” is a terribly sad case, but at best, an anecdote. Schools, and particularly public schools, are vehicles for the transfer of wealth from the present community to the future community, and from those with more means, to those with less means. (i know, the broken property tax system and hardened teachers unions etc have corroded those missions. but we can and will get back to basics.) unless we have shared, crisp, data-driven, measurable methods to determine whether education is indeed preparing people for the always competitive and highly nepotism-driven future, then all we are doing is spending huge sums of common wealth on coddling kids into an unprepared, uncompetitive leap into a hard and getting harder world — and sending ourselves a huge bill for propping up a growing pool of the disenfranchised
one “Mr Chips” does not a valuable, scalable system make. and sad as it may be, losing one “Mr Chips” — or many Mr Chips — does not a valuable, scalable system unmake.
That’s Steve’s $0.02. What’s yours?
If you love this kind of debate, to check out a blog by someone who by and large agrees with Steve, read Doug Lemov’s blog. Then, for some impassioned disagreement, check out Diane Ravitch’s blog. For a specific opinion on this topic, try Jack Schneider’s piece “What’s Missing From The Education Reform Debate?”