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- Teachers Have Known This for Years: A Generation Hollowed Out - August 3, 2021
- Opinion: After Trump, Civics Can NEVER Be the Same - January 16, 2021
- FIVE Miserable COVID Truths Teachers Don’t Say Out Loud - December 18, 2020
- A Message from the Year 2040: How a Year of COVID Learning Forever Changed My Life - November 23, 2020
- Zooming into the Abyss: The VANISHING AMERICAN STUDENT - October 16, 2020
- DON’T BE FOOLED: The Fall Will Be Difficult, But Teachers Were Demoralized Long Before COVID-19 - August 13, 2020
- Teaching in the Midst of the Corona Crisis - March 18, 2020
- Five OUTRAGEOUSLY OUTDATED Things in Modern Education - October 4, 2019
- It’s Time to Replace the Fourth of July (Kind Of) - September 17, 2019
#1: Where are the parents?
This is the most common thought by a landslide. Nothing else is even close.
We can hold thousands of workshops. We can invest millions of dollars in teacher development. We can even have an educational version of the Apollo Mission, Great Society, and Marshall Plan all rolled into one and none of it can possibly hold a candle to the power of good old-fashioned parenting: teaching young people to respect one’s elders, valuing education and educators, understanding that authority is not oppressive, it is instructive, believing that genuine achievement is the consequence of work, work, and more work.
None of this has anything to do with being rich or poor, black or white, Northern or Southern, being raised in a conventional or non-conventional household. What all of these have in common, of course, is a value system that exists BEFORE a student enters the classroom. As C.S. Lewis famously commented, “What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience.” Students who have been taught to believe in the power and magic of the classroom before they enter it are certainly more likely to have powerful and magical experiences.
Fifty years ago no one had to explain that there is one door to the American Dream and that door is a quality education. And yet, for so many of our students, the utility of education eludes them. We teachers are expected not only to teach content, but to artfully explain why the content is important.
Tragically, for many of our students, the most consequential adult relationship they have is with their teachers. That makes the task of teaching that much more important, essential, but ultimately, stressful. Teaching and parenting are very similar. But if we are being honest, even the greatest teacher in the world cannot take the place of parents who read to their children, who believe in the ethic of tough love, who never doubt that their children should go to college, and who are there to support them while never making excuses.