The purpose of education in the United States in 2015 is not clear or shared despite all pretension otherwise.


If teachers are ever going to establish themselves as fully professional, they will need to develop an authentic, very public voice and vehicles to advocate for their professional interests and control over their own work. What did the teachers in one state believe were the core reasons for apparent teacher apathy, compliance and unwillingness to speak out against destructive policies and practices?


There's a reason why we are now experiencing an all-out assault on one of America's best ideas--a free, high-quality, fully funded, fully public education for every child. It takes a compliant work force, people fearful of losing the low-paying jobs they love, who will put down their heads and do as they're told.


The essential truth about men and women in leadership roles: It's "normal" for men to hold most high-profile leadership positions, normal for women to be grateful for special recognition, normal for folks to be indignant or confused about gender bias. Aren't we beyond all that? Gender bias is so endemic, so deeply and subtly woven into American society, that most of the time, it goes unrecognized.


Why are the nonprofit CEOs, thought leaders, big names in ed tech and on social media, best-selling authors, administrators and bosses in education so overwhelmingly male (and white)? How does that shape the education discourse, when the majority of mouthpieces are male? Who has the loudest voice in education policy--and why?


Jose Vilson's book reflects teacher hiring, teaching, and public education, perfectly: the most important truths emerge in the dialogue, but it's a messy and imperfect process. The qualities essential for good teaching are place-based, deeply personal and rest more on character than quantitative measures. You can't test scientifically for an outstanding educator like Jose Vilson. Thank goodness.


Even though a child may indeed be reveling in and absorbing the wonders of a rich travel experience, or a deeply rewarding family visit, back home in the classroom, they're...behind. And school time is sacred. Or not.


There are reviewers (both formal and casual) who judge a book entirely by one aspect: Does the author agree with me? Not: Have I learned something new from this book? Has it pushed on any of my perspectives? Does it present its case in an engaging or unique way? Or even: Did this book raise my blood pressure? Because that can be useful.


Student athletes and student musicians have lots in common--they're kids who are seriously engaged in wholesome, school-based activities that have a big impact on their development and eventual lives, careers and citizenship. Pitting them against each other is a selfish mistake. "School spirit" is a real and valuable thing. Its other name: Community.


Kicking kids out for misbehavior is easy. Figuring out why they're misbehaving and addressing those needs is the real challenge.


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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