Many of The Best K-12 Teachers Won’t Go to Where The Students Really Need Them Most

It takes a lot to be a good teacher, you really must care about what you’re doing, and care about the students. That’s easier said than done considering how rude some of the kids are when they come to class, they don’t seem to have any discipline at home, and when they get to school there is no difference, at least there’s no difference in their minds. This makes it tough on a teacher, and it slowly errodes their motivation over the years.

We need those teachers, we need them to be the best they can be, we also need them in some of the toughest classrooms, teaching in perhaps places they don’t want to teach. In the United States, I would imagine that most of the teachers that work in the suburban classes, those school districts which command a lot of competition and therefore get some of the best teachers – well, what I’m trying to say is, I’m pretty sure that most of them wouldn’t want to go work in the inner-city. But isn’t that where we really need them? Sure it is.

I also imagine that teachers are pretty burned out in the inner-city, the tough neighborhood, the kids are tough, and not many of them put a lot of value in education, perhaps because even their own families don’t. Many of these kids, if they do graduate high school, may be the first person in her family to graduate high school; perhaps they are the first person in her family to speak English? The dropout rate in some of these schools, especially with the ESL kids can be as high as 60%. If we can’t do better than that, we aren’t going to succeed as a nation. After all, our nation in 20 years will only be as good as our schools are now.

Professor Sugata Mitra gave a lecture at the ALT-C 2010 Symposium for teaching “The Hole in the Wall: Self Organizing Systems in Education,” had put some computers in the form of a Kiosk in urban slums of India near the schools. It turns out that kids were teaching themselves English, and forming groups and helping each other learn. After 9-months they taught themselves English, computer literacy, and through this computer access improved drastically in science and mathematics.

Maybe if we can’t get the very best teachers for the inner-city, maybe we can at least get them the right technology tools, and those kids who want to learn, will, they will be curious, they will enjoy learning, and perhaps they will do just as well without a teacher. Interestingly enough, the individual I mentioned above has actually proven that, at least in India, Indonesia, Africa, and other places in the world. Maybe this radical departure from what we think schools should be, and our traditional education system is actually ready for a major upgrade.

If what we are doing isn’t working, then we are practicing the definition of insanity by doing more of it and expecting the same results. Why not change and try something new, it certainly is not get hurt any those kids in the inner-city, and just think if we can get that 60% dropout rate down to 10%. What a difference it would make in their neighborhoods in the future, and we’d all benefit from that wouldn’t we? Please consider all this and think on it.