I come from a family of teachers. My brother taught science before he accepted a position planning science curriculum for a school district and was head of his science department. He was also elected by other teachers to represent them at meetings in which courses were planned for schools across the state.
At one of these major meetings, my brother told me that every person in the room came up with grandiose plans for managing the district. But not one idea would help the children. And not one of the people (except for him) had ever taught. Their plans included loading teachers down with paperwork, but not coming up with a single idea that would help children learn.
When New York teacher Jerry Conti recently resigned, I thought about my brother’s story because he said he wasn’t leaving his teaching profession. The profession left him and it no longer exists. What a sad commentary on today’s schools.
My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.
How I wish people would recognize this road our children have been led down and figure out how to fix it. Our children need this. And our future depends on it.