Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Can I get an Amen?

Somehow John Chubb's article on the Best Teachers in the World manages to insult me and vindicate me all in one swoop. If you don't have time to read the whole thing Joanne Jacobs does an excellent job of summarizing it.

Chubb begins by discussing Peabody College, the education college at Vanderbilt University and the intellectual demands it places on its teaching candidates (which happens to be where one of my amazing former co-workers went). Peabody is exactly what we need all over the country to prepare teachers- an academically challenging and competitive college that attracts candidates who could also compete in other top rank schools in other fields. There teaching is not seen as the easy path, or the "I can't be a doctor or a lawyer so I guess I'll be a teacher" major. 

Chubb goes on to write, "Teaching is not an art, to which some are born and others are not. It is an intellectually demanding endeavor that can and should be guided by research-based practice. Teachers should be trained, both before they take charge of a classroom and thereafter. They should not be trained, however, in the schools of education that predominate today." 

Jacob sites- "The US needs to recruit high achievers to teaching and give them 'work that is less menial and more expert, less prescribed and more responsible,' Chubb writes."

It makes me want to cry.

Yes, yes, yes.

Raise the standards of my profession. Raise the expected SATs to get into teacher prep programs. Make it difficult to graduate from a teaching college. Raise our expectations of what we do in the classroom- NOT through giving us prescribed curriculum designed to be "idiot proof" but by using the intellect of the teachers in the room to design instruction to meet the needs of their students. Make teaching an intellectual profession. Please.

Chubb's argument is one I've been making for years. Seeing it in print validates my beliefs but also makes me want to cry- because right there in black and white it paints a brush of our profession as being fairly, well, dumb. 

The answer to much of this, I feel, sadly is money. 

 Not because I want more money, but because something has got to change in our profession. We are spending time, resources, money and messing around with our children's education and future all to try to micro-manage a profession that could be fixed in one way-

Pay teachers more.

Paying teachers more will validate the career path.
Paying teachers more will encourage the best and the brightest students to become teachers.
Paying teachers more will allow quality teachers to stay in the profession.
Paying teachers more will make it a more competitive field where it will become easier to weed out poorly performing teachers, or not hire them at all.
Paying teachers more will initiate a national change in mind-set where as a culture we begin to respect the profession, which in turn will attract smarter candidates.

Sadly it's a chicken or the egg question. No one will agree to pay teachers more while we don't respect the work teachers do. When teaching is still seen as the "well, you can't do anything else but at least you can teach" option no one wants to pay teachers more. And until they pay teachers more they are not going to attract higher achieving candidates. And until we attract higher achieving candidates we're not going to change the nation's mindset of the teaching profession. And until we change the nation's mindset of the teaching profession we're not going to pay teachers more.

Now I'm depressed. Why didn't I go to law school when it was still possible to get a job when you got out of law school?


*I have other thoughts on what the article says about Teach for America but I'll share those for another time. That would make this post much, much longer...

1 comment:

molly said...

Amen!

A think tank focused on creative solutions for future problem solvers -tree