Teacher judgment about what to do and say when a child is out of line is critical expertise. Such judgment is not easily or quickly learned. Nevertheless, a skillful, sensitive teacher beats a 100-page handbook full of escalating discipline guidelines and procedures any day.


Dressing up and playing (often challenging) "scary" music is good curricular and instructional practice. It encourages young adolescents to be kids again in an increasingly frightening adult world—playful and artistic, sharing their burgeoning talents with their community.


The funny thing is this: while Reformsters and policy-makers and researchers write and rewrite standards, benchmarks and assessments (or change the names of state standards to avoid the taint of "Common Core"), teachers go on teaching, standards or no standards.


Public schools have not only a right, but an obligation, to look every gift horse squarely in the mouth. Because it's the children they are responsible for who are riding.


Will difficult student conversations go awry and get muddled? All the time. But that's the precise reason why we ought to be holding them now, with our young citizens. One of the central purposes of public education is developing core understandings of democracy and hey---no time like the present for that.


Schools and teachers are the objects of commerce and policy, not co-creators or idea-generators or genuine partners. We get "gifts" from business, if we are producing what they need.


When it comes to education, we've certainly allowed all kinds of predators and vandals to chip away at America's best idea: a completely free, high-quality public education for every child. No matter what they bring to the table.


Where do good teachers come from? How do we pick promising candidates out of the crowd? What is the secret to putting the right people in the classroom?


When you strip all peer interactions out of learning, you're left with bare facts and theorems and instructions. Or, in competency-based learning, a screen, the next quiz and maybe, if you're lucky, a digital badge.


The policy goal here is de-professionalizing teaching, establishing it once and for all as a short-term, entry-level technical job designed to attract a revolving door of "community-minded" candidates, who will work diligently for cheap, then get out because they can't support a family or buy a home on a teacher's salary.


The opinions expressed in Teacher in a Strange Land are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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