I usually like to write my own stuff, or at least write wordy responses to stuff other people write, but today I feel the need to just pass this one along, with minimal commentary.
In a New York Times op-ed piece, "In Honor of Teachers," Charles Blow writes about the contradiction that even though teachers are vilified more and more these days, most of us want to recruit good students to become teachers. I am a teacher these days and I have a hard time recommending that any of my students pursue the profession. And I teach honors and IB courses. One student, possibly one of the brightest students I've ever had, recently asked me about what it's like as an English major in college. I told her it's awesome and that she would be great at it, but the problem is that once you're done, you have three options: teach, attend grad school in some other area, or just go get a job somewhere and impress random people with your knowledge of Beowulf or Victorian feminist literature. And then she told me something like, "Well, I definitely don't want to be a teacher." I completely understood.
For a decade, teachers have been on the losing side of the blame game. Now state and federal laws denigrate the millions of professionals who raise our children every day. But I see articles like this and it gives me a little hope. Smart people know what's the what.
So go read that article. Maybe my own contradictory feelings about teaching will be more evident. I don't know.
But first I want to say two quick things about Blow's story of his most inspirational teacher. First, I hope most people don't go around thinking that these days teachers can just randomly place a student in a "slow" class. There are procedures and laws, and really nothing like what might called the "slow" classes of yesteryear.
And finally, I realize that what Blow describes is an elementary class, but if I were to show my students that I care about them by putting my arm around them, I'd be sued before you could spell U-N-I-O-N.