I really enjoyed this article in the New York Times by Dave Eggers and Ninive Clements Calegari comparing teachers to soldiers. It's an interesting perspective when you consider how teachers are constantly the first to be blamed when students don't achieve optimal results, and yet we still praise our soldiers for putting up the good fight even when their efforts fall short. I like how this article puts much of that responsibility back on the decision-makers, much like the commanders in the military.
Here's the full article for your reading pleasure:
WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.
We have a rare chance now, with many teachers near retirement, to prove we’re serious about education. The first step is to make the teaching profession more attractive to college graduates. This will take some doing.
Can we do better? Can we generate “A Plan”? Of course.
The consulting firm McKinsey recently examined how we might attract and retain a talented teaching force. The study compared the treatment of teachers here and in the three countries that perform best on standardized tests: Finland, Singapore and South Korea.
Turns out these countries have an entirely different approach to the profession. First, the governments in these countries recruit top graduates to the profession. (We don’t.) In Finland and Singapore they pay for training. (We don’t.) In terms of purchasing power, South Korea pays teachers on average 250 percent of what we do.