Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nicholas Kristoff should teach

Yet another really smart opinion person (Nicholas D. Kristoff) has something to say about education, because, you know, if you went to school, you are an expert. Kristoff wrote about the value of a "great" teacher, while also showing the negative effects of a "bad" teachers. So, here is a somewhat satirical response, which the New York Times should publish:

Imagine receiving your 10th grade English class list a week before school starts and it is filled with repeat 9th grade students who are known for their boorish behavior. What should you do.


You can’t really do that, but an astonishing amount of evidence suggests that the difference between a well-mannered, responsible group of students and group of lazy, disrespectful students has long-lasting results. Having a miserable group of students raises your chance of depression by 9 percent, and you will be 20 percent less likely to enjoy your profession. Each year of such a class will cost you $1,100 in deductibles and copays for counseling, as well as $400 for copays on anxiety and anti-depressant prescriptions. Amazingly, a great class of students will save the average teacher 3% per year, thus allowing them to purchase more student materials that the school district no longer pays for.

The study, by real teacher and not elitist theorists holed up in a university, discovered that if a great class in not coming, teachers should take a sabbatical. The benefits to the teacher’s health and family far exceeds the public need to babysit unruly children.

Astonishingly, a “bad” group of students has the same effect as repeatedly bullying and humiliating an individual five days a week. Parents would never allow that to happen to their child, so the reasons why we allow our teachers to endure such viciousness remains unclear. Researchers found that teachers who are asked to deal with such abuse should receive a $100,000 bonus and be awarded educational sainthood.

Our decaying societal values of courtesy, respect, and hard-work is the most significant disease in America’s overall well-being. And this frustration is exacerbated by politicians and media outlets who don’t have the intestinal fortitude to confront the issue. Those big voices have all types of Woebegone theories and more than ludicrous pontifications, but are ignoring the most basic reality facing failing schools.

This experiential research should force intelligent people to think before they speak (or act for that matter), because who better to illustrate the truth about the daily grind of teaching.

Quite simply, the teachers. Or in another way to answer the same questions, not people who don’t teach. The reality is that money isn’t going to make teachers happier, or that reducing class sizes will make them happier either.

One of the truths about school reform is that great teachers are willing to accept responsibility for both their success and failure, but those in charge of school reform, or just write about it, have not put equal responsibility on the students and families who seem to think being lazy and disrespectful is an acceptable approach to education.

Imagine a world in which the top 5 percent of discipline problems in a school could be replaced by average students. Estimates indicate that each class period would gain 7.5 minutes of actual instruction time, amounting to 22.5 more hours of real learning in a healthy environment per year.

Now that would be worth pontificating about.


At 9:02 PM , Blogger Dan Edwards said...

Good Post! How about partial "combat pay" for those "bad" classes that seem to appear at least once in most secondary teachers day.....


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