Tuesday, February 7, 2017

On Teachers as Craftspeople

I just wrote the following on Facebook:

All students in elementary school, most students in middle school, and many students in high school have no idea that their teachers work harder than them. Why? Because the best teachers, like many great actors, journalists, and outfielders, are so good you don't see them for what they are: artists who have perfected their craft over a period of decades. Teachers are not machines.

I would like to add something. I sometimes think that the real divide in America exists not between those who believe the fetus is a living being and those who don't, those who believe in god and those who don't, those who are black and those who are white, those who like Nascar and those who like soccer, but really between those who think teachers are artists and those who think teachers are machines.

This division complicates some of our political assumptions. Many people I don't hang out with would consider their priests, ministers, imams, and rabbis to be their primary teachers. They would consider the best of them great performers, intellectuals, and artists. In other words, I would say that there are quite a few people who don't share many of my other political views who would agree that teachers are craftspeople. On the other side, my friends who are cool with the transgender and really care about saving black kids in Harlem, might be inclined to a more technocratic view of education, one based on charts and spreadsheets, faulty tests, and narrow definitions of intelligence. Such people see teachers as machines.

I wonder if at least a few of the Trumpies who are either ignoring the Betsy DeVos controversy or are shrugging their shoulders at her existence might have more in common with me than they realize. I may have more in common with them than some of the David Brooks/Malcolm Gladwell-loving folks in my world.

(I had a major fight with some racist jackasses on my high school alumni page this morning. So I'm reaching.)


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