So what makes a teacher, good?

And who decides…? On March 3, 2012, the New York Times ran an article titled, “Confessions of a Bad Teacher.” Below is the web link to the article.

Initially, the title of the article grabbed my attention. I thought to myself, ‘wow, this should be interesting.’ But after reading the article, it still struck a chord. The author artful discusses most of the major factors concerning education today— lack of funding, lack of resources, evaluation, social influence etc.

Within the article, I especially liked how he was able to use his own experiences, both growing up as a student, and now as a high school teacher, to reflect on student learning and teachers teaching. For example, the author thinks back to who some of his best teachers were, and what they did. He states that “my best teachers… exposed me to new and exciting ideas. They created classroom environments that welcomed discussion and intellectual risk-taking.” When I think back to the best teachers in my life, I discover very similar traits. It wasn’t so much about the material, but how they made me feel.

The author’s argument that student decisions outside of the classroom also heavily influence learning also resonated with me. The author describes student decisions such as to stay up late, play video games, or talk on the phone with friends as factors that determine and impact student learning. He acknowledges that they are uncontrollable by teachers. But somehow, the teachers are supposed to control for them. Although I had never really stopped to think of it this way, I agree with his sentiment that this is impossible and wrong.

In the end the author sees the current evaluation system from federal policy to administration observing his classroom as a system that is highly flawed. Having a brother who is a high school principle, I thought about sending this article to him.

Even though the article highlights the role of high school teachers and K-12 education, I believe similarities can be drawn to higher education. Primarily because I think this article does a nice job at discussing the larger phenomenon education is currently experiencing… The lack of attention and resources paid devoted to education and its decreasing importance to society as a whole.  Not to get political, but one of the Republican candidates for President of the United States called the current President a “snob” for wishing that everyone kid growing up has the opportunity to go to college. For me, it’s scary to think of our country in which education is no longer valued and encouraged.

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