Friday, January 20, 2012

Big Apple for the Teacher

First Premise:

This blog is not one of a jaded, embittered teacher, or at least, that is not the point of this blog. It is quite hard to teach and not rail against the many, many forces that seem to thwart your good intentions. And so, on the subject of intentions, let me state my first premise: almost all teachers have good, or dare I say, noble, intentions. You will be able to find exceptions to this, of course. But the exception proves the rule; it does not represent the entire population.

Before my tenure as a teacher, I worked in the technology industry. I became disenchanted with my profession, which I had loved, when the “dot com” boom and subsequent bust rendered so much of my work, along with the companies I had worked for, useless and obsolete. I wanted a more permanent, meaningful profession. I had always been a “bleeding heart” liberal who believed that every child had potential for greatness, but that most kids just follow the norm of their parents, neighbors, and friends. That is to say that rich kids tend to stay rich, middle class kids remain middle class (or, at least, they still did when I was contemplating my career choices) and poor kids stay poor, with very few, but highly celebrated, exceptions. In short, I become a teacher for noble reasons. I believed then, and still do, that all children can learn and all deserve an opportunity to learn.

Second Premise:

There are many articles written, many editorials given, many a political speech about the trouble with education today. Very few people who write articles or editorials, and even less people who give political speeches actually have any experience in public education and have little to no credibility on the subject. It’s angering to read or listen to these people complain about teachers when my coworkers and I face unbelievable challenges daily and still aren’t doing enough according to those who have no idea how hard it is. And this brings me to the second premise of my blog: teaching, like parenting, is so difficult that it is hard to explain it to anyone who has not experienced it. If there is a current or former public school teacher out there that says that teaching is easy, please bring this person to my attention. I challenge anyone to find such a person.

I want to share my insights as someone who has been on the front lines. I have experienced success and failure in my classrooms and as a parent. I hope to present an honest, fair, realistic presentation of what is ailing education today. Simple answers make great sound bites, but they are rarely effective policy. My blog will not only present the problems in public education today, but hopefully will present some novel and thought-provoking solutions.

I became a teacher for altruistic reasons. Please take this blog, my opinions, and suggestions in that same spirit. In other words, don't fire me! Or, at least not for writing this blog.


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