Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Opposite Extremes in American Thinking.

[Johnathan Clayborn]
I’m part of several different discussion groups about education and education reform. In one of the groups I saw an image today and it really irked me. It said, "In order to put students first, you have to put teachers last". To me, this is the exactly the sort of backwards thinking that has our education system in such a bad state in the first place.
More 700 people had “liked” this image of the button and thought it was great. In and amongst the comments associated with the button the vast majority of them said that they “love it” or that it’s “so true”, etc. Only a very small number of people actually disagreed with the statement. And even fewer understood my point.
I am just kind of flabbergasted that this kind of extremist thinking permeates our society so much.  Why do teachers have to be last?  Why can’t they be second? Or third? Why can’t they both be first?  Teachers are a crucially important part of our education system.
In order to make good tea you need good water, in order to make a good plant you need a good seed, and in order to have a good education you need to have a good teacher. The fact of the matter is that almost half of new teachers are only staying in the field an average of 5 years before they leave to find other work.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating that we just start pouring more and more money into the education system either, it’s obvious what we’re doing isn’t working and what need a complete change of strategy. However, that doesn’t mean that we need to put the teachers last in order to make the students first.
But, all of this opposition-based thinking seems to create more problems than it solves. Another classic example that comes to mind is the old adage “if you’re not with us, your against us”. It seems as though society in general is more interesting in creating divisions and laying blame than they are collaborating to develop effective solutions.
This is part of the reason that I’ve been registered as an independent voter for so many years. In the American Political System the popular conception is that either you are a Democrat, or you are a Republic. If you’re not either, then you’re a nut-job who’s just crazy. I agree with some of the Republican ideologies, but I also agree with some of the Democratic ideologies. I don’t’ agree with either party enough to align myself with either, but that’s exactly what our opposition-based thinking mandates that I should do. And with all of the recent Occupy protests that are currently on-going that share a similar mindset I can’t help but wonder when this “us vs. them”, black and white mentality will change.


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