Courage Among Teachers

Have had this article sitting around for a week and didn’t want to let another day go by without posting it…

Alfie Kohn wrote a great article for Education Week last week.  The article, titled “Encouraging Educator Courage” is about exactly what it’s title suggests.

It pains me to say this, but professionals in our field often seem content to work within the constraints of traditional policies and accepted assumptions—even when they don’t make sense. Conversely, too many educators seem to have lost their capacity to be outraged by outrageous things. Handed foolish and destructive mandates, they respond only by requesting guidance on how to implement them.

Kohn hits the nail on the head here.  In an exceedingly rapid fashion we have been handed mandates from bureaucrats that we know to be harmful to our profession.  Rather than speak up most teachers are herded along into implementing those mandates.

These days, the greatest barrier to meaningful learning is the standards-and-testing juggernaut—top-down, corporate-style mandates that are squeezing the life out of classrooms. This, therefore, is where courage may be needed most desperately.

We are reaching a critical point this year.  For the first time there has been some push back against the reform measures that have harmed our professions and our students.  It is becoming increasingly important for teachers to stand up for themselves.

I understand how real fear keeps more of us from doing what we know should be done. I don’t want to blame the victims, or minimize the culpability of those who pass bad laws. But if every educator who understood the damage done by those policies decided to speak out, to organize, to resist, then the policies would soon collapse of their own weight. 

The emphasis on that last quote is mine.  We have it in our power to affect change.  The PJSTA is providing you with several opportunities to do that this year.  It is more important than ever that our entire membership acts out against the damaging reform measures this year.  Our profession truly does depend on it.

He ends with a great quote from Jonathan Kozol…

“Abject capitulation to unconscionable dictates from incompetent or insecure superiors can be contagious.”

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