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Smart List: 60 People Shaping the Future of K-12 Education
10 Replies to “Most Powerful IN THE WORLD!”
Sadly, not a single person is a living teacher at any level. Doesn’t that say it all?
A picture really is worth a thousand words.
Yes, Linda, that says it all.
Remember that Wendy’s audience, who she is a member of or strives to be, is the 1%.
Not the 99%
Over at the Dailyhowler, search for Wendy Kopp, and read her inanities.
Today I saw the movie Freedom Writers and was moved to tears (again) at the portrayal of superteacher Erin Gruell. I love films that depict the power of a great teacher to change the lives of students and that’s certainly what Gruell did when she got her disadvantaged students from Wilson High in Long Beach to read about Anne Frank and to write diaries of their own. Another reason I loved the film is that Long Beach is my home too and so we all read about Erin in the local paper. She was a home-grown hero.
But a year after her book came out, Erin was no longer teaching at Wilson. Instead she became an instructor at Long Beach State and soon started her own foundation, called the Freedom Writers Foundation, where she presently serves as president.
Does this story sound familiar? It should because in our country teaching children is not an acceptable career for the gifted sons and daughters of the elite. Even when these talented people experience phenomenal success in the classroom, they do not stay. I imagine many would like to because the job is enormously fulfilling, but there is tremendous pressure from family and peers to “do better.” We are definitely not Finland.
So it should be obvious to everyone that the problem in our country is not with “bad” teachers who need to be fired, but with talented people who do not want to teach children.
I read this blog on an RSS feed and came over here to make the same observation – that none of these 7 most influential educators is still teaching (and it sounds like some of them never were teachers). That doesn’t mean their contributions to education aren’t valuable – we need smart people to figure out how to improve the “big picture” of education. But I absolutely agree with you, Linda, that “we are not Finland.” We are a country that has made teaching a blue-collar job, a country where that hated saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach,” is largely a self-fulfiling prophecy. That is why education reform in this country is so hard: it requires a very deep cultural change, and that is not easy (or quick) to accomplish.
It’s also quite telling that “the world’s 7 most powerful educators” are all Americans. Another cultural shift that needs to happen: Americans have to realize that America is not the best at everything.
Here’s a specific example of how cultural values can hurt a country’s educational system:
A young Canadian woman wanted to teach in her country but her academic record was weak. She was told that she could probably not get a job in Canada but “try the United States. Almost anyone can get a teaching job there.” She chose the location (California) where she wanted to work and had a job within months. She is a nice person and adequate teacher but she herself admits that she is not inspired and wishes she could be at home with her young son. She is well-liked by administration because she is quiet, cooperative and does not make waves. Only 35 years old, she’s likely to remain in her position for many years.
Should we heap blame on this woman for accepting a job that talented Americans do not want? Or should the shame and blame go to the “upper two-thirds of college graduates” who do not want the job?
Meh. Not terribly helpful.
It should be obvious to everyone that the problem in our country is not with “bad” teachers who need to be fired, but with talented people who do not want to teach children.
A picture really is worth a thousand words. It is really
7 educators, yet she has 8 people.
Just like the 1983 New York Times Magazine with Douglas Pike on the cover with the word idelogy on the chalkboard behind him.