I read this article with the hopes of finding an interesting insight into the argument that our schools continue to operate under a mostly industrial age construct. I was also hoping to gain a perspective on altering that construct to fit the 21st century. Unfortunately, I was disappointed and left to wonder what the purpose of the article was at all.
In it, I found a somewhat rambling narrative that begins with what I think is a negative memory of a high school English teacher (who apparently also was a major influence on the author’s own teaching philosophy). The article then goes on to paint with large strokes an extremely negative opinion of politics and politicians. Finally, we are led to believe that student performance, student work products, and any hands-on guidance by the teacher is undermining learning and that their is a difference between being a teacher and a teaching professional – basically teaching professionals are defined by their focus on being “social engineers.” I am willing to consider this, but only if the author would provide some basis to make the claim, like explaining in more detail what exactly he is talking about. I do, however, strongly believe in the school’s role in promoting democracy and helping to recognize how to further advance the overall well being of our society. If that makes me a “social engineer”, then so be it.
Let me say that I have never met the author of this article, but I have great respect for anyone who has dedicated their life to education. I also agree that focusing too much on student outcomes can lead to undesirable classroom experiences. On the other hand, I do believe that great teachers are defined by great teaching and great teaching is mostly visible in a classroom filled with engaged students. How each teacher accomplishes this is left to their individual talents. Talents that I am sure the author of this article employs with his classes.