Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Today in flawed absolutes


This article is a good example of using good points to make a bad conclusion.

The good: That schools need a mix of skilled, veteran teachers and promising up-and-comers who are dedicated to education for the long haul — and that schools are doing a disservice by hiring inexperienced, disposable transients strictly for economic reasons.  

Also good: That a teacher will realize that a child is not necessarily governed by the same rigid rules that govern human behavior as seen through the mind of an authority figure, but that they're OK anyway.

The bad: The insinuation that it takes firsthand parenting to understand any of this.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Parenthood isn't a magic key. Yes, I'm sure that there are things only a parent can understand, but it isn't anything this article mentions. Just as the U.S. military is run by a civilian, so can non-teachers be parents. In fact, in both cases, there are benefits: the president/commander in chief is expected to consider options other than military intervention in world affairs, and teachers are expected to be invested in their students in different ways than an emotionally involved parent.

The author of the article (Sara Mosle) says that parenthood made her a more understanding person with regards to kids. That's all well and good, but that says more about her personality beforehand than any innate wisdom that birth brings. She sounds like she might have been a cold, distant teacher in her early days. In my experience, those are the worst types of teachers, and parenthood won't wipe that out for everyone. 

I think anyone, regardless of their relationship or parental status, can be an excellent teacher if they possess the necessary attributes: wisdom, patience, competence, empathy and other qualities that foster an effective learning environment. Those are more basic than most people credit them to be, and aren't the products of absolute walks of life.

That's a lesson I hope Mosle has since learned.

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