JDP did a study of LinkedIn photos to see which profession is making the most mistakes in how they present themselves professionally. Educators were right up at the top. One might say that’s because LinkedIn is not an important way for teachers to get jobs, but then why are they on LinkedIn at all?
That got me to thinking. It’s so easy for me to criticize teachers. After all, they are building their career in a totally broken system. But what about thinking the other way — what are some things I need school teachers for?
I made a list:
1. Being someone to rebel against. A study of dissenters in the Supreme Court finds that sore losers with bad attitudes have the most influence. As long as they write well. Stanford has already admitted that kids learn to write most effectively in social media, rather than in the classroom. But you can only have a bad attitude if you have a foil, and to that end, I’d rather have my kid rebelling against a teacher’s rules than mine.
2. Managing breaks. I used to think kids need ten-minute breaks every hour. I read that somewhere. But now I read that kids can only learn optimally for the first half of each hour. Which means instead of setting a timer for ten minutes the kids would have to set the timer for a half hour. And I already have a hard time remembering to yell at the kids for not coming back after ten minutes. So I’d definitely forget a half hour. I’d like a teacher to train them to come back after the break. Or train me to remember to yell at them to come back.
3. Talking without controlling. I need to stop trying to control my kids’ actions and start teaching them self-control; they need to control their actions themselves. I understand conceptually, but I need some phrases. And I want to get tested so I can see if I’m generalizing properly. Also, does it count as trying to control them if I remind and nudge them? I want a teacher to tell me.
4. Listening to kid-chatter. I took the picture up top because I wanted a memory for my son of the time he spent with one of his favorite music teachers. But when I looked at the picture I was struck by how intently the teacher is engaging with my son. He is really listening. I always appreciate when someone else can listen for a while because I don’t have the capacity to listen carefully all the time. And the kids feel so important when someone listens.
5. Teaching social justice. Someone sent education reform stuff about social justice and deep learning. I think social justice is important. I want my kids to think about social justice and how they can work to incorporate more of it into society. And I was going to tell you that I want teachers to read the stuff in this link and figure out how to teach it to my kids.
But then I realized, I talk all the time about how I took my kids out of school because I believe only really poor families should get the benefits of free education; we should devote all our resources to lifting families out of poverty. Everyone who hears me thinks I’m crazy – even my kids. But part of educating for social justice is teaching that you have to believe in impossibly big change in order to make it happen. So I’ve got this one covered.