Teaching: the Most Noble Profession

Image courtesy of nightthree via Creative Commons.
For my blog post today, I’m sharing a recent essay I wrote for Care2.com, an online community for people passionate about creating a better world. Here’s an excerpt from "Teaching: the Most Noble Profession":
Another school year begins.

Last week, I was speaking to a veteran teacher of 35 years; an award-winning teacher. She’d recently retired. I asked her if she missed teaching. She didn’t miss a beat. “Not at all. Not since No Child Left Behind.” For her, teaching had become untenable. Her special education students, often immigrant children without English competency, were taking standardized tests that she described as nothing less than cruel.

Perhaps if these standardized tests were helping our children, she wouldn’t be so jaded and discouraged; but the irony is that there is little evidence that regular national standardized tests improve educational outcomes and much evidence that other educational approaches are far more successful.

It is a scary thing to imagine that we are driving out the very best teachers like her. It is deeply worrisome that veteran teachers are discouraging their own children from becoming professional teachers. It is truly terrifying that the Texas Republican Platform states:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

One can only imagine the sorts of teachers who will remain if Texas gets its way. Or the future in store for all of us when the children who’ve been taught to memorize, regurgitate and obey – but not think – grow up and take upon themselves the roles of professionals and citizens.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

Get tickets now for the October 13 NYC debut of my 1-woman show -- My Ongoing Problems with Kindness: Confessions of MOGO Girl -- at United Solo, the world's largest solo theatre festival.

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