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Bill Cosby's Remarks on Teachers


Bill Cosby made headlines last week after giving a speech in Los Angeles about education, with news outlets reporting that he had criticized teachers and parents for not doing enough to help kids. Specifically, reports said he chided teachers for not being able to explain to children why courses like English and Algebra are important. But in a recent interview with Teacher Magazine, Cosby—who has been outspoken in recent years about racial achievement gaps in education—said his comments were taken out of context. Rather than attacking teachers, he said, he meant only to urge them to explain to kids why they love the subjects they teach.

What's your view? Was Cosby knocking teachers? Were his remarks about them valid? What sort of impact does Cosby have on the education community?


I think Mr. Cosby was right on! As a life long educator he understands first hand the challenges we face in this profession good and bad. In addition, using his own personal experience, he also understands what motivates and disconnects students about learning. Today, our students are so disconnnected from the mainstream so must make the practical connections to what they are learning and and what is expected in the "real world". Our students are literally dying on the vine and unless we can inspire them to "wonder" we will lose many of them before they've had a chance to really understand the importance of what we're trying to teach. So if we're not excited about what we're teaching how do we expect them to be?

How could ANYONE not agree with Mr. Cosby's assessment that one who would teach MUST be able to--with passion and conviction--defend the validty of the content area for which he/she is responbsible. Today's students, particularly those in the "urban blight zones," need to hear that what they are about to learn is relevant to their own LIVES and EXPERIENCES. If we, as educators, cannot make this vital emotional connection, we do not begin a lesson with the emotional "hook" required to get students to listen or to remain attentive for long periods of time. Second, to extend Mr. Cosby's argument, the successful teacher must also make students understand why this information is IMPORTANT to them; in other words, teachers need to be able to respond to any dis-enfranchised student who would ask the question, "Why do we need/have to learn this?" Without the ability to complete these two tasks--make the information relevant and make the information important (and these are PROFOUNDLY different things) the teacher may just as well be speaking to himself. Students will never learn, because the brain filters out that which is not relevant or important to it.

On the other hand, Mr. Cosby, not knowing your own background as a teacher, may I suggest that, unless you have spent at least ONE COMPLETE YEAR "in the trenches" with these disaffected students as their TEACHER, you really do not have the requisite experiential background to give you the right or the authority, as an "expert," to speak on this important issue. Just as I (an educator with 26 years of experience--seven as an administrator) would not deem myself capable to address topics related to comedy and what "makes a joke funny," perhpas you, and those others who are OUTSIDE of the field of education, would do well to come and "walk in our shoes for a bit" to provide yourselves with the knowledge and experiential framework from which you may make your "soapbox" more legitimate and more palatable. Right now, lacking such experience, I suspect, you are more like the morons in Congress who would pass an abomination such as the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT. With their own lives so corrupt and under such close scrutiny, how dare they tell ME how to do my job!!! Are we passing laws to tell doctors, lawyers, or accountants how to perform their jobs? I think not. Yet, there are doctors and lawyers and accounts out there, currently practicing, who are far less capable at their chosen craft, than the talented and creative teachers with whom I work and whom I so proudly serve each day. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!

(Getting off my own soapbox now :-) )


Bill Cosby remains my hero because is articulate and right...have passion...continue to learn...celebrate what you know...talk all the time about why you are teaching every lesson or..."work in the post office"...

Cosby's comments are fully justified. Cosby is a true supporter of education and of teachers. My son was one of 20 students in Stanford's Teacher Education Program that received a $20,000 scholarship paid for by Bill Cosby.

I can't agree more with Mr. William Charles. Bill Dr.Cosby seemed to comment about teachers' work based on the false presumption that teachers do not explain to students the pertinence, importance and real life connection of their subject.. I suggest Mr. Cosby visit public schools more often and observe how classes are being conducted eventhough teachers lack of essential materials and equipment, before making such generalizations. I've been teaching for 29 years in Puerto Rico and I'm proud of my colleagues and profession. As a teacher I keep enjoying teaching every single day in spite of laws and public opinions that only help to discourage our efforts and diminish the beauty of teching. "If you can read this comment, thank a teacher."

Cosby is right--teachers and parents are letting our children down. Too many teachers no longer care enough to give their best to our students. As well, parents are not living up to their responsibility to support the learning that goes on at school. Teachers and parents should be working together in order to produce chidlren that will be able to effectivly function in our society.

As Mr. Cosby talked about passion, there isn't enough passion in the schools or our homes. Passion is what makes parents love their children. Passion is what makes teachers want to positively impact children. If there is no passion, all teachers should get out of the business of education.

Gaps in achievement are all the evidence we need that there is a dearth of passion somewhere along the parent/teacher/governance continuum. If our students have no biological, emotional or psychological obstructions to learning, then they all should be learning at a predictable high rate, within the bounds of individual and cultural differences. But that is not happening. even our most productive students seem to be lagging behind a host of students in other, less economically endowed countries. Yet, few of our students demonstrate a lack of passion for social amenities that have nothing to do with school. We know that passion is contagious and when young people are in it's presence, the associated behavior is grafted onto them like the waddle of duck is imprinted from it's mother. Cosby is right! He is a parent; he need not spend a single minute in school as a teacher to understand that when the teacher is passionate, the student is enthralled! And there is no greater teachable moment. Right on Dr. Bill, You go guy! Keep stirring the waters. We need to hear it and then heed it.

Dr. Cosby has hit the proverbial nail on the head again. It is not about the teachers but about the kids. I have been teaching 5 years after spending 35 years in private industry. There are many, many of my fellow teachers who have a tremendous passion, skill and ability to teach but there are many who are burned out and possess a myopic view of the students. There attitudes are easily recognized by both fellow teachers and students. These folks should move on to a different vocation. They are usually recognized by knowing how many days till the end of the school year by the second week in September.

Ah, passion. I agree fullheartedly. An an arts educator -- and therefore as an artist -- passion is what drives me. The trick is finding that balance between -- or perhaps more accurately the blend of the passion for your subject area, your "art" and the passion for your profession, because I strongly believe we need both to be good, no: great teachers.

Looking up the definition of passion on my computer "passion" is defined as "strong and barely controllable emotion." Imagine maintaining that level of intensity for 20 years...25 years...37 years. No small feat, truly. In fact, the word is derived the Latin meaning "to suffer" -- something many teachers would agree they do on a daily basis.

However, imagine suddenly you reserve part of that passion for your own self, your own growth. I have found that what enables me to remain a passionate (and compassionate) teacher is the permission I give myself to love my art: music. When I'm in the classroom, we work together as artists, and this allows me the privilege of giving back some of that passion to myself. I'm no longer "just" the teacher, but also the artist, creating (even dreaming) right along side my students, for their benefit -- and for mine.

I believe many (but not all, or even most) teachers burn out because this fire of passion burns hot and bright, and is eventually snuffed out by all the constraints and limitations placed teachers today. Perhaps the issue for teachers is that there's no easy "out" once the fire has been extinguished. Then, just like a passionate student who's own creative energy has been stifled by the "system", we become resentful -- of students, for getting to have all the fun; of administration for simply doing their job; of the general public for imposing an ingorant will upon us; of ourselves, even, for allowing that fire to die.

Interestingly, in the last few days at work, I've heard this same argument: "if they could only walk in our shoes." As someone who also waited tables for 10 years, I often applied that same argumen for un- or underappreciative customers. I must say I agree, but I also know that that ideology can't be my cop-out. Resentment is a heavy burden to bear, and it only makes us feel worse about our jobs and those around us.

One thing we CAN do, however, is to reward ourselves personally, in our own unique ways, for loving what we do. And for doing what we love. I continue to create, and explore and find the depth and excitement within my profession; I've taken on a new role at a new school, and it energizes (and challenges)me. I also continue to create, explore, find the depth and excitement in my art. I do this along side my students, and we grow and learn together. Their success -- and my own -- energizes me. We dream together. (And it's fun!)

Yes, by summer, I'm worn out. But it's that "good tired" that we've all come to know and love. Teaching is hard work. So is being passionate. Kids are more perceptive than we sometimes give them credit for. If we don't care -- about teaching, about our content area, about them as students -- they're the first know....sometimes even before WE do.

I support fully the statements made by Dr. Cosby. Global learners, who make up over half of any American classroom, MUST know why the information that they are learning is important and how it applies to them. If teachers cannot answer the question,"Why do I need to know this?" then they need to talk with other teachers in their department to determine a valid answer or question the importance of what they are teaching. Because it has always been taught or it will be on a test in five years is not enough. Students have the right to know why the information is important to them NOW. Dr. Cosby addresses an issue that is of extreme importance and needs to be an intregal part of teacher education programs.

It was interesting during the furor over Mr. Cosby's remarks re teachers that the media ran the story of his having agreed to a settlement in a civil case. Obviously, he had rubbed liberal thinkers the wrong way and their minions in the press were getting back. Afterall Bill's days as a front page personality are in the past so why else pull his life onto the newspages. But he was a valueable contributor to quality entertainment and I wish there was more product like the Cosby show on the air today.

If anyone has been to an school open house or parent night either in the past or lately, they have had to sit and listen to a presentation generally given without passion and often without eye contact, by a teacher whose communication skillls are -- to put it gently -- lacking. I have only once in the course of raising two children and attending every open house and greeting session in their twelve years of schooling had a teacher boast of his/her resume, subject knowledge or offer a hint of their lesson plan. To the contrary, I have been told that sharing the lesson plan is never done because when goals are stated outcomes will be expected.

If you read the literature and articles on what makes an effective teacher you come to the conclusion that the candidate must be a passionate communicator of core knowledge. I think that it is in the formation of those who would be teachers that the failure to teach core knowledge and CORE VALUES is most apparent. Mr. Cosby is observing the classrooms and seeing them led by people with muddled thinking on practically every issue. He chose to comment on the excitement or passion issue. In the past he has criticized Ebonics and kids making stupid choices.

Parents are the primary teachers of their children and most could do no worse than those uninspiring folks between the front row of desks and the chalkboard. And in most cases, it wouldn't take from 8 am to 3:30 in the afternoon.

Bill Cosby is correct. What he is saying is backed up by what we know about motivation and learning: that in order to learn, one must first have an interest in what is being learned and in order to have an interest in what is learned the content must in some way positively affect the student. If the student is just learning it because "I said so" or because "you use this later" he won't really learn it the way he or she should. Therefore, it is imperative that the teacher not only verbally tell the child why his subject is important to learn but also show the child why it is important to learn it. If it's algebra, for example, it isn't good enough to simply say "this will train your conceptual faculty." The student doesn't know what a conceptual faculty is. Rather, the teacher must demonstrate with concrete examples the difference between seeing the world with knowledge of algebra and seeing it without knowledge of algebra. If the child sees that he is more knowledgeable about reality with algebra than without then the teacher has succeeded in motivating the child, which will then cause the child to learn the subject that much more.

I think Dr.Cosby has a valid argument that many teachers need to hear. When that passion is communicated to students, the reason needs to be something other than, "you'll need this for the test". If we are not passionate about what we do and what we teach, how can we expect our students to be passionate learners? For all of those excellent, passionate teachers out there--spread your passion like wildfire, our kids are depending on it.

Had I the opportunity to be in that audience, hearing Mr. Cosby's speech, I would have given him a standing ovation. Indeed, withut an expressed passion for the subjects we teach, the joy of learning can never bubble over into the spirit of our students. However, I see many of us, in the teaching profession, in a catch 22 situation. Many of us show excitement about what we teach, especially in urban, low income school communities. We spend long hours after school, brainstorming for strategies that will make our teaching more effective. We tailor our curriculum to the learning needs and styles of our students. Yet there are many students who would rather disrupt our efforts and bring the learning experience to a halt simply because they are not interested in learning what we teach. If we could just separate the students that are willing to learn from the unwilling students, I believe many more of us would show that precious zeal for teaching. High school students that show absolutely no interest in academics or college prep might find more interest in vocational studies. If school district administrators and local boards would look more deeply into the real learning needs in their school communities, student counselors would be better equipped to place young people in classes that will hold their interest and inspire their talents. A young man that performs very poorly in language arts, but loves working with his hands would not be fairly served in a foreign language class. He would be set up for failure. You want us to show more zeal in teaching? Administrators and Board members, show more zeal for scheduling classes that will cater to local student needs and talents. Counselors, please do not merely fill up classes with available bodies, rather, assess student qualities and interests along with test scores in various academic areas. Place them where they may prosper. Then the teachers will teach! I speak from experience and I feel confident that I'm not the only teacher that feels this way.

I think Mr. Cosby means well but tends to put his foot in his mouth, so to speak. Unless one has spent time with disenfranchised students in a classroom one doesn't know what it takes to engage these students especially in middle and high school. Yes, teachers should have passion about their subjects or about their craft. But they also need, especially in inner city schools, less than 30 students in a classroom; all the right equipment from textbooks, alternative content materials, desks and space that is inviting, a teacher's aide and maybe even volunteers to make sure that all children get the needed attention and/or help that they may need. The so called "achievement gap" can be closed when all children have a stable home life and teachers who care that students learn.

I cannot agree more with Dr. Cosby that an on-going display of your passion for teaching,whatever the subject is a fundamental necessity for reaching your students.

I was fortunate enough, in the closing stages of my teaching career to work within a staff of highly creative and deeply motivated teachers. Our results showed that reaching the disaffected student(s)is well within reach, given the proper teaching conditions and the freedom to teach "outside the box." Sadly, NCLB has taken much of that freedom and creativity out of the classroom in favor of a narrow curriculum and restricted teaching methods inorder to promote standardized test scores that have little or anything to do with the "education" of our children.

For those of us in Physical Education, it is even worse. Despite the wealth of research that links movement and activity with health and wellness, social development as well as with academic growth, we continue to be minimized, marginalized and dis-credited, even as overweight/obesity, diabetes, asthma/bronchitis and those many related diseases have become rampant among our children. Is it any wonder so many are dis-spirited? We strive to lower the class size of "academic" classes to below 30, yet physical educators commonly face classes ranging from the upper 40's to 100 or more. Is it any wonder so many are dis-spirited? While most "academic" teachers deal with 100 (or fewer) to 150 students a day, it is common for our secondary PE teachers to have class counts of 250 to 300 (or more) students a day. Is it any wonder so many are dis-spirited? And don't even ask about "aides."

Education needs to take a fully comprehensive of view of it's mission. If we are truly to "educate" the children of this country, then we must include the fine arts, technology, vocational education and physical education as integral components, side by side with the "academic" subjects. Lacking that, we will continue to produce children who are bored with school and who lack the vision to understand how integrated the world has become.

One of the first missions of the new congress must be to free us of the constraints of NCLB and in the process to include ALL educators. Do it for the teachers and do it for the children.

I worked within alternative education for 10 years and Dr. Cosby is right on target. He speaks to one issue and should not be criticized for not speaking to all. Yes, there are many other issues but we need to at least address those to which we have control and go to the core of why we are teachers. If you do not love what you do and cannot convey that love to your students or defend what you do and why you are there... without expecting some idealistic Mr. Holland moment, then get out now. I see so many teacher candidates who will never make it as teachers because they lack an inner fire to teach.

The generation of ten years ago left high school with direction and the majority has suceeded in their endevors. The next two genrations forthcoming, "X" and "Y" as they are refered to, have left high school with some direction of where they would like to be in life between a one and five year span and the rest are satisfied with living the "status quo". Some of them are living just this way NOW and are very content doing so. This is a statistic that can be found in any Sociology book or acedemic website.

Mr. Cosby was addressing the teachers, yes, by saying that if you, as an educator, cannot affirm your teaching position on the very FIRST day of school as to the "...why do I need to know.." you will lose the attention of the student. You cannot backpeddle when you realize half way through the school year that you have lost their interest. YOUR passion for teaching the subject should be stated clearly, concisely, and with eye-to-eye contact right from the start. You say what you mean and mean what you say and stick to it. Is is hard? Yes, depending on the demographic location you are in. However, that is when you must involve cultural diversity to make it all come together or recommend another "track" of teaching method. That recommendation can only come from you.

Mr. Cosby also addressed the parents of the students in Los Angeles, CA by "pointing a finger" at the ethnic groups that fit within that particular demographic area, mainly the African American parents ("...black parents, if memory serves me correctly as I listened to part of his speech) that they are NOT fulfilling their duties as parent(s) within the system of education for their child. Yes, I am sure we could argue the point by saying the parents say, ".. I have to work...", I am a single parent with all these children to take care of...", "I am tired...", and, "I am just the grandmother trying..." am I getting warm yet? However, it is still no excuse, in Mr. Cosby's explanation, for the "parent(s)"/"guardians" to fall down on the job and NOT assume an active role in that student's life.

Case in point. I taught high school health, up until recently. The first day of class the students were already saying "...oh, this is going to be a breeze class, "eazy A", "I will be able to do my other homework, right Mrs. Klos?", and the best one was "...nap time...". My answer was as follows. I have taught the majority of you since you were in grade school, middle school, and now high school. You also know how I teach. For those of you that do not know me you will as I will get to know you. However, do you actually think, as most of you can recall these days; that a person who ran rescue for the city for four years, a person who also worked in an emergency room, received her Nursing (RN) degree, and now five classes short of a Masters degree in Education is going to allow you NOT to learn Health an give out an "...easy A" to a class who has not EARNED it happen? I do not think so and I know so. However, everybody in this class will have the same opportunity. Everybody starts out with an "A", it is up to you to keep it or drop it as low as you would like to take it. However, you WILL learn HEALTH in my classroom. You need it for all those unanswered questions, comments, remarks, and thoughts that you hold within your brain. I made my position very clear the first day and followed through to the end of the school year. They not only LEARNED something, they realized that they had the "freedom" to express their thoughts and ideas without ridicule and earn either a "B" or and "A". They EARNED it.

All educators work tremendously hard to receive their degrees and when we graduated with our Bachelors degrees and or Masters degrees, we were very PROUD of OUR accomplishments and express gratitude to finally get out of school to get into school. Not meant to be an "oximoron". Why shouldn't the student have that same opportunity. It might mean we might have to redeisgn our methods of teaching, become more creative, and most of all, share OUR passion with our students. We once were sitting in their seat. Wasn't there a time in YOUR life that you looked up to a teacher because of their "passion" and wilingness to share?

Yes, I do agree with Mr. Cosby and find him to be a remarkable man with much wisdom and strength. Do students look up to him, YES. He has had programs on television that I am sure at one point or another has impacted their line of "sensibility" and they probably still watch his programs or if at all possible have seen him in person. If they have seen him in person, as I have, they would have seen and heard a different "Coz"; in a jokingly yet "passionate" manner of speaking. If you have followed Mr. Cosby at all, you will realize that EDUCATION and FAMILY have always been at the top of his list; amongst other PASSIONS. I look forward to the day when our fair city can see him again and hear what he has to say. I applaude your PASSION Mr. Cosby and I thank you for taking a stand.

Bill Cosby has common sense and a real feel for parenting and teaching. He calls them as he sees them and if his comments hit too "close to the bone" perhaps we need to listen rather than rebuke. I have been a special education teacher for over 20 years and never have I been so close to being "burned out". What scares me is that so many of my fellow teachers feel the same and these are the good teachers, the passionate, caring, innovative ones! We are being buried by unnecessary paperwork that pulls us out of out teaching to meet some of the junk requirements of federal mandates. I could go on. Keep talking Bill we need to hear the voice of reason in an unreasonable world.

Interesting discussion. My response is specifically to William Charles who offered, "Are we passing laws to tell doctors, lawyers, or accountants how to perform their jobs? I think not."

My response, sir, is that you think wrong! Laws are passed every year in every state as well as at the federal level that regulate or prescribe how doctors, lawyers, and/or accountants are to perform their jobs. NCLB may be a bad law -- I will not even attempt to debate that -- but when educators use this kind of argument, they do themselves and their profession a real disservice.

My daughter is in her 4th year of teaching. Trust me, she does not need that kind of defense of her profession.

Teaching is and should be one of the most honored professions one could aspire to be a part of. But to ignore the real problems that we have in our educational system and seemingly try to avoid accountability is simply unwise.

My thanks to all my teachers!

Right On!!!! Dr. William H. Cosby! I sincerely hope the readers and listeners are clear that your response to the lack of response from the algebra teacher was not an indictment of all teachers, but rather you seized the opportunity to discuss the need for teachers to freely display their passion through their knowledge of the subject area they teach. Nothing grabs the attention of students, even the most difficult student, more than a passionate teacher who goes the extra mile to ensure the students “get it.”

Twenty years ago, I asked my eldest daughter’s geometry teacher if he taught how geometry is used in everyday life. When my daughter had to build a display using toothpicks or Popsicle sticks, I knew he was on the right track. I began to have a different perspective on geometry because I could never figure out what in the heck it was good for.

Teachers and administrators must recognize the world in which we live today. Everything is sensationalized beyond recognition. We can’t ignore, it however. We must find a way to use computers, video games, hip-hop, rap, music videos, sound, colors, etc. to grab our children’s attention in positive and productive ways. We must ask each other the hard questions and put our creative thinking caps back on.

As the principal of a full time special education school for boys, I fully recognize this to be true. It is the constant topic of examination. We structure, re-structure, examine, and re-examine what we do, how we do it, on a daily basis. We cannot and will not accept mediocrity from our staff, parents or teachers.

Here, here Dr. Cosby – once again you challenge us to think – outside of the box that has been presented to us as the only way!!!

Regarding Dr. Cosby's comments on race and education, please read "Young Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African-American Students" by Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hilliard, III. A very enlightening three-essay book by teachers and scholars. All three essays are a must read.

Regarding Mr.Cosby's response I would have to honestly support it. As an Art Educator I am consistly and constantly put to task on , "WHY must I take your class". I tell my students to buckle up and get ready for the long distance trips and time travel we will experience.. I do not only teach them the mechanics of my craft but the majesty of it. I can honestly say that I have been fortunate to have all of my students after spending a term with me wanting to come back. They all respond that Art now is more than just paint on paper, it is LIFE.

They are taught the connection that ART plays in Science, Math, History. They make connections with the academics ane are eager to share out in print their discoveries from their learning.
This could not be possible if I did not believe in what I teach nor would it be possible if I did not love it. This is importsant for the students to feel that you believe in what you do and that the connections are important enough for them to grasp. It is as much a philosohy as it is a way of being. My students gain an appreciation of the visual, musical and dance deciplines from a global perspective.

The adults, namely other stasff and parents I always feel as if I have to break them in to the importance of the arts. This is the most difficult. For the most part their perceptions are skewed and need correction. Once they are trained into the reality that the art room is a studio with its own rules and a descipline, not to be dismissed, they themselves become active within the environment.

Teaching more than anything has to be viewed that it is more than just a job. There are days as tired as I might get that I feel that i should not be paid for having so much fum. As human creatures we are intuitive and it through my students intuition that they feel my passion.

Teachers who had responded with a negative did not really understand what Mr. Cosby was saying. His critique is a valid one. Love what you do and make it valid. We are in effect sales people., selling the importance of education, no matter what the subject might be. We are selling our craft, our profession, our knowledge.

We have to prove why our students want to know this,( even the ones who are resistent and do not know they want to know this subject). In short make it rigorous and at the same time fun. Make it so in such a way that they are learning without knowing it or realizing it until you challenge them. You might be surprised to see that they have actually been listening.

It's interesting to note the mixed reactions to Dr. Bill Cosby's comments. As educators we may not readily want to admit that he is right, but he is. Taking offense does not remedy the low level teaching that exists in many American schools. There is far too much worksheets dispensed to make the grade. The passion has gone out of teaching for many teachers partly because of the laws that choke the profession and partly because of teacher burnout. Salary is not even an issue,because as long as the nobel profession exists, teachers have been lowly paid. So, that's definately not why teachers stop teaching the "how" and start teaching the "what".

Students are no longer educated for life long learning but essentially to pass the high stake tests. Parents do not seem to care if their children can read well. They are only interested to know that the child made an A on his report card.

Many parents are also ill equiped to help their children at home, because they too are the product of the schools that their children are currently attending. They too did not come away from school with much education, so they do not have much to contribute to their children's day to day learning.

Teachers who have taught around the globe often compare the quality of education many American children receive to children from lesser developed nations and conclude that American children are short changed both by parents and teachers.

In as much as some educators would rather not hear from Dr. Cosby, he is right. Teaching and learning is just not what it's used to be.

Dr. Cosby is correct. I feel that as a up coming teacher and a person that was a Paraprofessional for five years it is important to love to teach and explain to others why you love to teach. If you are unalbe to why should child want to learn.

As a teacher in training, I deal with the exact same question that Mr. Cosby asked the math teacher in his lecture. "What does EDUC 32-- have to do with special education?" I actually had an instructr put the question to ME! because her entire class was frustrated with having to take a "general education class" that seemed to hav no relation to the special education curriculum.

The point of talking the k-3 math class, and the general reading instruction class, is to experience the techniques and materials that our general education peers are using. When the 3rd grade teacher comes to the SPED teacher and says, "I have a student who can't do base-10 math, what can I dod to help him/her?" the SPED teacher needs to know what base-10 math is - AND how to help.

I was an honor student in high school and I currently have a 3.9 GPA in my education training classes. I struggled with the same question in 1987-1989 as I was coming through high school. Why should I learn trigonomtry and precalculus? I want to be a band director, not an engineer.

Well, here I am at 36, finally getting a B.S. in May, and while I did not have to learn precalc, my life situations and choices have landed me in a far different situation than what I planned for 15 years ago. I ahve focused my educational training on application of the theoretical and evaluation of what works and what is nice to thnk about if you have "the perfect classroom." I try to relate each course to what I am learning about kids and how they interact with the world.

I agree, Mr. Cosby. If you can't explain your passion, or at least how a student can use this idea or technique in the real world, then get out!

If you refuse to learn new things, you have become a tape recorder, not a teacher - and tape recorders can be replaced...

Bill: You said it right. Teaching with passion is the hallmark of a true teacher. Why learn? Why read? Why write? Why Algebra? Life is so complex, and it is the duty of an educator to give each child the best survival tools possible. To challenge one's mind is to expand one's horizons. Our children/ students deserve to "feel our passion" and take from it what they need.

If Mr. Cosby stated it the way that I read it then there is much validity to it. This is more than simply the right and wrong of his argument, it is about giving the best that you can as a responsible adult to the welfare and benefit all children. There are no quick and easy answers to the problem of a vast majority of children being mis and/or under educated in the wealthiest country in the world year after year after year.

Wow, Principal Charles, you really should have thought for a moment before you pressed the "Submit" button. No Child Left Behind? Who was talking about that? I think Mr. Cosby is absolutely right on. I don't recall a teacher ever telling me why they loved algebra or history when I was in school. I was the typical kid who thought "why do I have to take history?" No one ever bothered to give me a thoughtful answer. The answer to that question should be part of Day One of every class. Our education system is still trying to follow the model from the agrarian age. How ridiculous is that? What business would survive, following that kind of logic?

I think Mr. Cosby is correct about a few things, teachers must be passionate about their content and they must do their best to convey that passion to their students. In my opinion the job of the teacher is to prepare lessons and activities and experiences that will encourage and inspire students to make a genuine effort to learn, apply, and extend concepts and ideas that they are being taught. However the student must carry some of the responsibility for their learning, especially at the high school level. This is where the parents’ job comes into play. Young children are naturally inquisitive. However, a child’s potential learning energy can be squandered if parents are too tired or too annoyed with everything else in their lives to help their children maintain the natural desire to learn.
Even once children get into school, parents and other people who care about them must show an interest in what they are doing in school ask them to explain what they are learning, ask them what their favorite subject is, what their least favorite subject is, what the lunch period is like etc. Make time to speak to their teachers on the phone or otherwise, teachers would love to know that someone at home cares. Show them that you value the work that they do for 6 to 8 hours 5 days a week!
Teachers have a similar set of requirements. We should not let students sit in our rooms and fail because we won't take the time to make the connections with parents and other caretakers.
We should be letting our students know that we value the time we spend with them and that it’s not just a drudge, this deeply affects the learning attitudes that students bring into the classroom.

I work in a poor inner-city school with limited resources and lots of behavior issues etc. I think that people imagine that on the first day of school every teacher walks into a classroom of perfectly behaved students who are just waiting for the learning fun to begin. But in reality students have to first be convinced that they should listen and respect you, just because you are an adult called a teacher does not mean anything to them. I think a lot of teachers get burned out and disappointed by this reality and wonder if anyone at home or in this kid’s past has ever expressed an interest in the child or what the child does.
The roles parents and teachers are vital to the success of our young people we all must make a real solid effort to do our absolute best at these jobs

I agree completely with Bill Cosby's comments .
I am however, very disappointed with ALL the blame for alledged failures in LAUSD being directed at teachers and parents.
I have yet to see ANY blame being directed at the RESPONSIBILITIES of STUDENTS ! SO I WILL BE THE FIRST.
Students have the RESPONSIBILITY to want to LEARN, LISTEN to and RESPECT their teachers and PARENTS.LEAVE the CELL PHONES out of the CLASSROOM.
(NO open shirts/blouses,BAGGY PANTS, mustaches/beards etc.
I grew up in LAUSD,John C. Fremont grad, CLASS of 1967.Dress codes were strictly enforced, for boys and girls, in fact I was suspended once for having a SHADOW of a MUSTACHE!!
The VICE-PRINCIPLE'S number one job was to administer "SQUATS" as corporal punishment for "US BAD STUDENTS",pun intended, and parents would take-over when I got home from school with a note from the teacher.
We as parents now, are CHARGED with CHILD-ABUSE if we attempt to discipline our "CHILDREN".
Administrators NEED to take RESPONSIBILITY and STOP PLAYING "MUSICAL CHAIRS" with teachers and counselors, and just help teachers FIX the PROBLEMS.
(323) 230-7547

I support and applaud Dr. Cosby for sharing what's on the mind of many educators, parents and community members. Personally, I'm trying to identify and analyze the 'negativity' in the comments that some suggest Dr. Cosby espoused. He merely suggested that passion regarding the subject matter and connection to real-life is critical in the learning process. What human beings want to waste their time and learn 'superfluous' nonsense for the sake of killing time? All kids, teenagers, and adults want to find a reason to absorb knowledge. However, I agree that some learners need to make a 'real-life' connection to 'learning' while others merely accept that knowledge will lead to a more comfortable, successful and productive life. As educators, we must differentiate our instruction and we must 'hook' our audience to want to learn. It's like fishing...if the bait is off the hook or we don't have the right lure...we're not catching!

Bill Cosby may never have set foot in a classroom as a teacher, but he is a parent, a citizen, a taxpayer, and a sincere advocate for education. That is what gives him the right to speak up!

I'm glad someone finally had the courage to say what is shared everyday "behind closed doors" and around dinner tables. This is not an indictment on those who are sharing their passion with their students, it is for those who are not. If the shoe fits, walk it over to the post office or wherever, but stop ruining our children.

I am so-o-o tired of many people having the idea that anyone can be a teacher. They can not! Especially not a good teacher, and definitely not a great teacher. I've been a student of all of the above. Bad teachers do exist. Bad teacher candidates do exist. Bad instructors at ever level of education exist. Let's stop pretending like the majority of the teachers in American classrooms are doing what they should. If this were the case why are so many students dropping out or graduating with the inability to read? The teachers must take a bigger portion of the responsibility. And if you are one of those teachers who are great, wonderful, keep up the good work. If you aren't, admit it, and get out of the classroom.

I would like to respond to the previous respondant's question of why so many students drop out and wherein lies teacher responsibility in this matter. In my twenty-two years of inner-city teaching I have watched my district bleed students. These young people drop out of high school for a variety of reasons, but top on the list according to student self-report is that school was boring or irrelevant. So on the face of it, one might logically conclude that a cadre of robotic teachers drove these students out of school to escape the mind-numbing boredom of a dispassionate, bland, outdated educational environment. The problem is that in twenty-two years I have encountered maybe two teachers who fit this description, and thousands who don't. I have also been accused numerous times of being "boring," apparently a cardinal sin these days--but always by students who rarely attended school to begin with. While I agree that part of teachers' responsiblity is to make connections between academic content and students' lives--which is sometimes not possible under the constraints of NCLB accountability measures--I would contend that most teachers ARE doing this. Unfortunately, they lack a consistent, willing audience for their efforts. In my experience students who attend school regularly and are willing to suspend their judgement as to the relevance or "boringness" of a particular teacher, class, or subject long enough to reap the benefits of the teacher/class/subject don't drop out. But when teachers are pilloried in the press, or blamed for not educating students who rarely come to school or consistently exhibit oppositional behavior toward school and teachers--they DO drop out. In some inner-city districts, 50% of new teachers leave the profession within two years. Many of the respondants suggest that teachers whom they deem lacking in passion, skill, or energy leave the classroom; please know that there is a dearth of qualified, passionate, skillful, energetic individuals waiting to replace them.

Dr. Cosby hit the nail on the head. I think we must show a passion for our subject, but not only our subject. It must be a passion for learning. Teachers are not the only ones in the school who need to model a passion for learning. The whole school community should reflect and model the importance of learning. Administration too!

I'm a teacher and have been a teacher for many years having begun my career in my country of birth, Guyana, South America. I have never before in my life seen such blatant disregard for learning as I've seen with the students over the last 2-3 years. There are many of us in the trenches (classrooms) who relate the significance of what we're teaching to the reality in the world because I do, but we have students coming into our classrooms who are just not equipped to do the work at that level for reasons that are numerous or who just refuse to do their part. Their goal is to become a football star, a basketball star, The American Idol or something that TV has brainwashed them with. They're coming to us with low selfesteem, missing and/or disinterested parents, homelessness and a slew of other issues.

How do we fight those things with "why it's important to be able to speak and write well so as to get your point across." Or "to be able to do simple math which could lead to more important aspects of the subject so that when you become "this star" you could have a handle of your finances just in case you have an accountant who's going to rob you blind because you can't keep an eye on your finances.

Everyone blames the teacher when the child fails. Hold the teacher accountable, but no one blames the child or "God" forbid, the parent who pays absolutely no interest whatsoever and is not held accountable. When we signed on to become teachers we did not sign on to be doctors, police officers, psychologists etc. but we are expected to be all that. We did not sign on to be verbally abused day in and day out with profanity, being told what to do to students' body parts and in many cases, threatened and sometimes assaulted. How are we to work under those conditions?
Do you know how many teachers are having health problems like, high blood pressure, heart attacks etc? Look at the longevity of the teachers when you were a student as opposed to teachers now. Tell me if there's a difference.

We, teachers have to compete with people like you, sports personalities, TV and movie stars and all those who get on their soap boxes while commanding Big, REAL Big $$$$ dumping on us who struggle to make ends meet, living from pay cheque to pay cheque. For the abuse we take you'd think someone would say, "Oh! they are so underpaid."

Mr. Cosby, I've admired you for a long time but I think that until you walk a mile in a teacher's shoe, don't discredit us, don't blame us. Are they some who do not belong in the classroom? Yes, but I feel that the majority of us have the children't best interests at heart.

Would you change places with a teacher for a year; I mean really change places. Living a meagre existing while that teacher lives a life of luxury?

While I agree with Bill Cosby's comments(see my earlier comments), I can't help but wonder what he meant by" you may as well walk it over to the post office".
I was educated quite WELL in LAUSD and raised in Watts and Compton. The career I CHOSE after attending Trade Tech L.A., was with the U.S. Postal Service, and over a 35 year career, rose through the ranks from a clerk/carrier to the position of Postmaster before retirement in 2004 .
I hope his "slur" toward employment with the postal was un-intended, as I know of nearly 800,000 employees who would beg to differ.
Incidentally, I have 3 Grown Children that also were educated via LAUSD, as well as numerous postal, civic and government associates as well.

I have asked all the pre-service teachers in my classes to listen to Cosby's comments for two reasons:

First, answering the questions "Why is this important?" and "Why do we need to know this?" before they can be asked is an essential step within any lesson plan. Providing that link to previous and future learning and providing a motivation to learn is, quite simply, integral to effective teaching and effective classroom management.

However, the second thought that occurred to me as I was listening to Cosby's comments is likely even more important than the first... Teachers who are passionate about teaching in general and their subject matter specifically are a large part of the solution to the severe teacher shortage in the U.S. We have all heard teachers who, in moments of frustration, have said "I don't know why anyone would want to be a teacher these days!" and "I hate teaching!" I have even heard teachers comment to students, "You don't want to waste your talents as a teacher - you have the ability to be so much more..." We are sometimes our own worst enemy when it comes to recruiting the best and brightest into education. I can't imagine Mr. Cosby ever telling a bright-eyed young person who is thinking about pursuing a career as an actor or comedian that he/she should consider medicine or engineering or law because he/she is way to smart to waste his/her life doing something so unfilling as acting or comedy!

What a wonderful week! To hear Bill Cosby tell us teachers to share our passion with our kids and to hear the Nat. Council of Teachers of Math admit - what we all knew - that they made a mistake 17 years ago when they told teachers to focus more on concept and creativity rather than memorization of math basics - to multiply - and now "believe" in drill and repetition and memorization. We are trying to help the victims of "Whole Language" who cannot decode and now we have to help those who cannnot do the higher math because they lack the foundation that memorizing math facts brings. "New Math" is gone. Yeah. As an educator of young adults trying to obtain their GED, I have seen the problem first hand. As a former 37 year vet of grade 7/8 LA, I have anguished over those who could not read. I can only hope that the new teachers who have been infected by the "corruption" of these ideas quickly change their curriculum to offer math facts.

Absolutely! It seems the educational system has gotten so caught up in teaching a curriculum--- content within a timeline geared for the mandated tests. So teachers seem to be always racing, racing to cram knowledge, rote facts to enable students to meet the proficiency standard required by "No Child Left Behind."

Why learn it? Because this is the standard. This is what will enable you to compete in the world. This is America. We must understand that education is in the interest of national defense. When we are old, who will be responsible for looking out for us? These young people of today. Yes, showing your passion for what you do is paramount in "selling" the information. Yes, this is sales. Teaching is an honorable and noble profession. You have to want to do this job. Not for the money, not for the power and demand of attention and authoeity to pass or fail others. Education is a necessity for survival, not only for those who we are to teach, but for society as a whole.
Ignorance can kill,
Dr. Cosby is only providing an example of effective strategy in "persuading" students to want to learn what they may not see in their day to day child/adolescent lives.
It is my contention that students want to be successful in school and if they find that the opportunity is not there for them to gain the success, they soon fall away---afraid to fail again and again. And so they become apathetic.
If a child/student can take time to persevere in learning to accomplish the next level of the video game, so too can they learn to accomplish the next level of academics. It's the same feeling---a feeling of accomplishment. If a child can experience that positive impact more than the negative, they will rise to meet the challenge, as they do with the video game, again and again. It is in them to want to win. We must help them to do that by providing a varieties of opportunities for succss.

Dr. Cosby is correct. Students need to see why the lesson for the day is necessary to them personally. However, there are some very big problems in education for which all the passion and explanation of the personal value the material may convey will not help.

Having taught at various places and various grades (including special education at various grade levels), AND having tremendous passion for students and their future, I want to state that I have seen a tremendous amount of apathy from a large number of parents in low socioeconomic groups. I'm guessing that many of those parents do not see much value in education, hence the cycle continues unabated. Many are concerned with just having enough money to pay for utility bills, car repairs, and doctor visits. Many have marriage problems. LIFE can be so very very hard just trying to cope with all the problems. I lived in that low socioeconomic group for 12 years, and let me tell you, it seemed there was no hope on the horizon. I did read to my children and teach them many things about their world as a poor parent. However, at least I already had a college education at that point, of which most low socioeconomic parents do NOT have the benefit. These are the parents my heart cries out for.

I was a teacher who called parents as often as possible to let them know HOW their children were doing. I even went to the houses of parents who spoke little or no English so that they would see that I must care to take out the time to pay a visit. I was the kind of teacher who came to work with lots of energy and enthusiasm for children to learn the multiplication tables with activities and rewards. I taught the students to encourage each other when one of them improved, even a little. Some students would make me want to claw at myself, but I started each day as if nothing bad had ever happened. It did no good that I could see. Each day those very difficult ones would return to my class with a zeal to wreck havoc so that all the attention would be on him or her. This is probably evidence that the students get no attention from their parents at home. Sometimes the students would tell me that their father or mother would tell them they were stupid. I'm sure parents say many things they do not believe, but they are just very very frustrated by all the uncontrollable factors in their lives.

I'm also seeing a fantastic laziness and lack of work ethics with the present generation of children--INCLUDING my OWN. My older children realize to a greater degree, but not nearly to a sufficient degree, that one must WORK for everything. Life does not HAND you anything. One of our sons wanted and needed a vehicle. Many of the students around him were GIVEN new vehicles to drive that they had not paid a penny for. We told our son he could purchase a used vehicle, but he would have to pay for it AND for the insurance. He has realized that he has learned a valuable lesson in having to WORK for that vehicle, even though it has been a long road for him and for us!!!

I see the condition of our schools as a reflection of our materialistic and impatient society. People drive faster and behave more rudely than ever I have seen in my life.

It seems that the solution to improving student learning is not just a sufficient number of educators providing passion and preparation and scaffolding for our students. We need to repair the families who have such tremendous needs that our children cannot function in the classroom.

we have not come up with a basic education curriculum with which to teach children across the country and globally. a curriculum which requires common knowledge, common ground for all children regardless of whether they are rich or poor, white or black. it must be a curriculum that is multidisciplinary, which can be based on one discipline which not only inspires curiosity but faith, hope and joy in the children's learning day. of course the curriculum could be altered to apple to the various population areas and the climates, etc. in which the children live. it must also be a curriculum that parents can relate to and one which teachers can teach from what they know as well as what they learn. it must be in language that the children can understand and hands on lessons which address the senses. i have done research in all these areas and have taught in harlem, usa in workshops which were quite successful.

Why should I care what Cosby meant? Until he can provide evidence, even anecdotal, of children who have become better "citizens of the world" because of his classroom instruction, I think his opinion is irrevelant.

WOW! Once again Bill Cosby has seen the world through the eyes of a teacher. Each day, I most motivate my students to grab the brass ring as the carousel keeps moving fast in the other direction. From teaching grade levels kindergarten through ninth grade, I have seen first hand the importance for teachers' to help students' make the connection to their present world and the world, we as educators, know they must face as adults. Seeing students' making these connections to life after high school, is what makes teaching worthwhile to me. In May, my last class of junior high students' graduated and some impart to my push for them to make the connections to what was being taught and their future.

I believe Bill Cosby gives teachers "food for thought." Often we know "how" to do something BUT we do not understand the "why." As professionals, we should certainly be able to articulate to students why the subject matters we teach are important and how they fit into the big picture. I think Bill Cosby has simply challeged us to raise the bar! His comment were appropiate and right on point. I say..go Bill!

This generation of students ask the tough questions of adults, things you would not venture to ask of your parents yesterday. We coninue to talk about high stakes testing, yet, not making education relative to students lives is the real reason students don't buy into our notion of quality education. Students today are much smarter and brighter than their parents, thats why the distractions they face offer a connection, we don't.

Mr. Cosby is absolutely, 100% dead-on. I start my secondary methods class with an activity called passions. The students get 5 minutes to share what they are most passionate about. It is a wonderful experience and serves as a jumping board to this very conversation. I'm glad someone of Mr. Cosby's stature has brought this message to the forefront. It is the very cornerstone of teaching.

I'm an emergency doctor in a hospital where we routinely use ketamine to sedate children for painful procedures. WBR LeoP

To Professor Lamkins, Actually, you may be biased in what you look for in a teacher candidate. Just because we all don't agree with some of the propaganda shoved down our throats in credential programs doesn't mean we won't be successful teachers. I'm sure you thought I was one of those who would not be successful, yet five years later I am. Students who are in credential programs are in the baby faze of teaching. It takes a few years to see if someone will be a good teacher or not. They may not seem to have the fire because of stress and other issues but once we get comfortable in the classroom and develop our own style, nothing can stop us. Sometimes credential programs can be confusing because we are introduced to so many ways of doing things that it takes time to develop our own style.
In fact I know you thought I would not be successful in the classroom but I am. Don't lose faith in us.

Sorry for the misspelling. That should have said phase, not faze!

I believe that you may have picked the wrong teacher to pose your question to. Many of us ARE passionate about teaching math. I make sure that my students know that Algebra is the new functional math. You can't hang wallpaper in your bathroom unless you know Algebra.
My students interview their parents about the level of math they use in their jobs. Nearly all of them use Algebra in their everyday lives.
As you can tell, I am passionate about what I teach!

I agree with your idea of being able to explain to students why you are passionate about teaching and being able to explain the beauty of the content taught. I think that being positive and passionate about teaching is contagious and helps one develop a positive classroom climate. Thanks Mr. Bill, see you soon.

Hi Mr. Hector, I taught at Fremont and I can tell you it is a far cry from what it was when you were there...Attendence and truancy are horrific and there is almost no parent involvement. There are many good teachers there but students are not sent to school socialized by their parents...theft is also rampant. I told my students who were laughing that someone's purse got stolen that they were pretty poor excuses for human beings. They thought it was funny that the assistant principal had asked over the loudspeaker for someone to return a purse that was taken and they laughed and said it would be returned empty. I just told them "You get the school you and your parents deserve." That shut them up. It is so disheartening because there are some great kids but they don't reach their potential because they are surrounded by slackers who don't value education. The principal has to spend so much time going over appropriate behavior. It is such a shame. To Anita:Beauty and passion cut both ways. One has to be able to recognize it.

Ms. Lamkins seems to have a bad attitude toward her students. I never met one teacher candidate in my program who expected a "Mr. Holland" moment. I did meet many enthusiastic teachers who might not seem like they have a fire to teach at 8pm after a full day of work and over priced, irrelevent education college courses, but they most certainly do have that fire.
Some teachers might not "make it in the classroom" due to refugees from the classroom who claim to be all knowing about how and what to teach. The high drop out rate and poor working conditions in inner city schools might be another. Do you really think that the continuing problems of inner city schools can be blamed on teachers? How about parents and students themselves? Students who take personal responsibility for themselves do better in school than those who don't. There is no magic to it. Teachers also leave due to poor pay relative to the cost of living. Why did Ms. Lamkins leave K-12 teaching?

I am in agreement with Mr. Cosby concerning this matter. I have been an educator for many years, and have had the wonderful opportunity to be a classroom teacher and a building administrator. It is my firm belief that many teachers today are teaching from the wrong perspective. The children of today are savy and needy. You cannot motivate them because you are an authority figure. Youth today do not fear authority. They love a challenge and are very self centered. IF YOU CANNOT REACH THEIR HEART, YOU CAN NEVER REACH THEIR MIND. We must teach from the heart. Make our profession and passion for learning a love thang. It must all be relevent! We can make learning a social, emotional and professional experience.





If students do not want to learn(and many of them do not) you could be the most interesting, enthusiastic, helpful & encouraging teacher in the world, and still not motivate the kids who think that being smart and getting good grades makes you uncool.

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