A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
The other day in my educational psychology class, we watched a TED talk given by Bill Gates on what makes a great teacher. I sat there in my chair, ready to be blown away be some great nugget of wisdom that I might be able to share with the other pre-service teachers in my method class. What I got was not what I expected. I was actually disgusted by a lot of what he was saying. This brought me back to my idea of question absolutely everything. I have to be reminded not to take information for granted or big names, like Gates, as people who spout only great ideas. I have to question. I have to keep questioning.
And then question the answers.
One of the things that Gates said that bothered me was an analogy that schools are like factories. We, as teachers, were compared to someone in a factory who was producing absolute crap. We create an unsatisfactory product because we are not followed by an administrator who is constantly checking on us to make sure we are performing correctly and efficiently and with the results (test scores) they want. I totally disagree with this. In fact, I was really bothered by this. Schools are not factories and teachers are not mere factory workers who are supposed to meet a quota of knowledge deposited in each student’s head. Teachers are not to be merely disposed of when we are not meeting our goals.
Yes, there are bad teachers out there, but I tend to take an optimistic approach. Most of us want to be good teachers. Heck, we want to be great teachers. We try and we try and we try and the system breaks us down and burns us out until we throw in the towel and go sell real estate. Factory work. Fill in the bubble tests. Worksheet packets. Curriculum that hasn’t really changed since it was established way back when. I want to take a wrecking ball and knock down this factory and put up a new system in its place. One that encourages real reading and writing practices. One that fosters wonderment and a love of learning rather than a slog through the motions. I want something that has students doing something real and meaningful. Students can contribute to the world. They can further scientific research. They can write and write well. They all love to read, they just don’t know it yet. Every student can do basic math and not hate it. History can be engaging and not some dry memorization of dates. Faculty can work together, across departments and our own silly fears, to show students how all of this works together. Knowledge is not compartmentalized, with math in this box and English in that one. It all works together. Our administrators could work with us to find systems and methods that work, that actually support learning. School can be productive and meaningful and more like real life than ever before.
Maybe my idea is too utopian, but I’m going to try for it. I’m going to keep on trying and I hope, everyday I hope, that it won’t burn me out. My question for you is what’s your vision? Will you help me with mine?
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No One Here But a Writer Who Gets Up and Try
Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
Psychological, thriller, mystery, secrets, betrayal, adoption, romance, poetry, art
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Stefan Falke photographs artists who live and work along the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region on both sides. All photos © Stefan Falke (use with written permission by the author only)