The Washington Post– and many other outlets– recently reported on the resignation letter of Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School, Syracuse, New York. Mr. Conti has 40 years of teaching experience, but feels that teaching has been marginalized in the increasingly aggressive drive for standardization of curricula, instruction, and assessment.
With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings.
– Gerald J. Conti
Whatever your personal level of achievement, it’s vital that you remember to make space for others to stand up and stand out. Here are three examples of celebrities rising to that challenge.
Michael Bublè and Sam Hollyman in 2010
Billy Joel and Michael Pollack– a Vanderbilt University student in 2013
Bono of U2 and Adam Bevell– a self-taught, blind guitarist– in 2011
Thank you to Christie Veitch and Brian Danielak for reminding me.
Infographics have a way of bringing issues into focus (… thus “INFOgraphics”, I suppose!). American education reform seems to be stuck in a pattern of finding fault, then believing that more of the same policies that created the faults are the solution.
“Adjuncts are not regular members of the faculty; we are paid an hourly rate for time spent in the classroom. We are not paid to advise students, grade papers, or prepare materials or lectures for class. . . . To ensure that we remain conscious of the adjunctification of CUNY, we ask that you do not call us ‘Professor.'”
To learn more about the source and context, be sure to read The Village Voice’s article on the outsourcing of education.
My sense is that we all often throw up our hands and imagine that there’s nothing we can do, whether it be about our country or our organizations or ourselves.
We should fear failure: the failure to try and the failure to behave in a moral, principled way; everything else is ego.