A few weeks ago I took some pictures of the edges of things that I was going to save for a post. Other than the pictures, I wasn’t sure what the post would be about. Now I know.
Even though I am on vacation I find myself reading the news online and this morning’s New York Times “Room for Debate” feature on the value of an education degree has me feeling particularly edgy.
As a person who has dedicated most of the last 20 + years of her life to teaching and to helping others become good teachers, I feel both offended and discouraged when I remember how many people think that “anyone” can be a good teacher with little or no preparation other than some knowledge of the content they plan to teach.
Most people who have spent time in the classroom as teachers know that teaching is complex, challenging, exhausting (on some days), and exhilarating (on others). Not everyone can do it well, and pretty much anyone, in my opinion, can benefit from participating in a thoughtful, well-conceived teacher education program that provides opportunities for developing pedagogical skill, deepening content knowledge, building relationships with colleagues and students, and that includes occasions for extended reflection.
No one would consent to going to a doctor who knew biology but had no medical degree, or a lawyer who knew history but not how to practice law. At a time when so many people seem so concerned with the quality (and, sadly often, the quantity) of the American system of education, it dismays me that they also seem intent on arguing that teachers do not need the specialized knowledge that will enable them to meet the needs of the diverse students in their classrooms.
And with that, I think it is time for a walk on the beach.