I attended a local committee meeting this evening where it was suggested that it might be okay for kids to have bad teachers so they learn to “live with it”, that in “real life” (whatever that means) they are going to have to deal with less than adequate coworkers, bosses, peers, etc. and that by having a bad teacher or two, they will be better equipped to “deal with it”. There are so many things wrong with that thinking…
First, there is an assumption that the child will emerge from their year of poor teaching with the same skills and concepts that a child in an excellent or even average teacher’s class will have. We know that is not the case, moreover, we know that economically disadvantaged and minority students are more susceptible to losing ground academically due to below average teachers than their peers. The assumption that these students will be better off because they learn to “deal with it” is completely off base because they may not be able to get to that place due to academic deficits that they have to overcome. How can we accurately measure their ability to “deal with it” if we didn’t ensure that we gave them all the tools they need to reach their potential?
Which leads to my second point, don’t we have an obligation to make sure our students reach their potential? I know that it sounds rather naive and idealistic of me, but to be so blatant as to dismiss cognitive development and assume that a student will “learn to deal with it” is irresponsible and I think one could argue malpractice.
Finally, our teachers are role models as much as they are educators. Students emulate their teachers, and if they see a lack of professionalism, an inability to perform a job adequately, and perhaps worst of all, a lack of passion for one’s profession, they will grow up doing the same. In a world where good role models are not always found at home, we have a responsibility to ensure that our students learn from them while in school.
And, oh by the way, as a parent I’m going to fight like hell to make sure my children don’t have that teacher, as an administrator I need to make sure that I force any of my families to have to take on that fight.