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Does Society View Teachers as Experts?

Teacher Expertise Blog Series: Part Two 

We are going to begin by trying a little experiment. I want you to close your eyes and picture an expert. Visualize someone who is a leader in their field...someone who is the best at what they do and whose professional opinion you trust.


            Open your eyes. Perhaps one of these people came to mind? Tiger Woods, who became a professional and won his first Master's at the age of 21. Steven Spielberg, whose career as a director, producer, and screen writer has spanned four decades and who has won 3 Oscars, 7 Golden Globes, and 11 Emmy's. Serena Williams who just won her 22nd Grand Slam.

           I also picture some of these experts. My doctor, who I trust with my health. My mechanic, who I trust with my wheels and my wallet, and whose opinion I greatly value. My colleagues at MHC, who are researching behavioral neuroscience. Or the pilot on my American Airlines flight I took this morning, whom I trusted with my life.

            They are considered experts in their fields.

            What about teachers? Did anyone visualize a teacher as an expert? Maybe you did because let's face it--you are reading Ed Week, so teaching must be something you care and think about. I tried a little social experiment last week and found that my teacher friends did picture teachers first. But when I asked those outside of education, less than 10% of people questioned visualized a teacher as an expert.    

            I feel so many emotions when I read that statistic above. Now, it was from my informal and unofficial research. But I wonder what would happen if we did that on a larger scale? I predict that the figure above would not be far off. And I wonder that if we asked teacherss, if they would self-identify as experts? I think that a thin slice of teachers would say yes--most likely those in leadership--but the majority of teachers would not.

           I want to pose a few questions questions:

           Why do we not see ourselves as experts? (I will be honest...I struggle with this daily!)

           Why does society not see teachers as experts?

           Why is this problematic?


More to come in part three of this Teacher Expertise Blog Series, on "Why Teachers Should--and Must--Claim Their Expertise."

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