Thursday, April 1, 2010

Passion and Education

While listening to Sir Ken Robinson the other day I saw a lot of people in the comments asking these questions along the lines of:

Should we continue to encourage students in their passion even though they suck at it? And should we allow passionate teachers to stay even though they suck?

MSC_1154Image by USV via Flickr

Is everyone who is passionate about art creating museum quality art? Of course not. Some passionate people are curators, some are graphic artists, some are in design, and some teach. Not all make a living by making art, but I would bet most have a job or hobby that let’s them express their love of art. Even though I like art, I’m not one who is ever going to pay millions or even thousands of dollars to buy a piece of art for my home. I’m just not that passionate about art. I do however like to doodle a bit when bored.

Should passionate teachers who aren’t really good teachers be allowed in the classroom? We aren’t even close to being able to ask that question. I think if we had a perfect world where we had the best and most passionate teachers in all of our schools we would be right in asking that question. This isn’t a perfect world. We don’t have passionate teachers in all of our classrooms. I think a bad, but passionate teachers are more likely to, at least be willing to learn. While just plain bad teachers likely just don’t care enough to try to improve.

I’m one of those who thinks improving education hinges on support of teachers. One of the most important supports is real teacher training. Allowing teachers to co-teach the first year or two in the classroom. The first year of mentorship should include something along the lines of creating, teaching, and reflecting on lessons with a master teacher everyday for a full year. Then during the second year being a part of a small team lead by a master teacher. Each teacher on the team gets the opportunity to observe and evaluate each other on a regular basis. All this observation and evaluation is geared towards creating quality teachers and should have little to do with teacher retention. Almost like TFA, but with real support and mentorship for new teachers after real classroom study.Years three through 100 should include opportunities to observe and be observed on a regular basis as well as about a million other things.

Should teachers with a passion for teaching be allowed to stay in the classroom and teach. Yes, and they should receive the support they need to learn to master their craft. When we finally get around to getting rid of the sucky teachers who hate educatoin we can start looking at passionate teachers who just don't have the skills.
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