The Myth Of The Bad Teacher

This myth is also seductive in its simplicity. It’s much easier to have a concrete – though vague – villain to blame for problems the school system faces. The fix seems easy, as well: all we need to do is fire the “Bad Teachers”, like controversial Washington DC school chancellor superstar Michelle Rhee has, and hire good ones, and students will learn. In this light, Gates’ effort to “fix” the bug riddled Public School Operating System by focusing on teacher development makes perfect sense. The logic feels hard to argue with: who would argue against making teachers better? And if as a teacher, if you do dare to, you must be “anti-student,” a “Bad Teacher” who is resistant to “reforms”, who is resistant to improvements, and thus must be out for himself, rather than the students.

The only problem with the “Bad Teacher” myth, as anyone involved with education is intimately aware of, is that problems in education are anything but simple. “The discourse of these so-called educational reformers is simplistic and polarizing,” as Henry A. Giroux claims in a recent, comprehensive essay on the subject in truthout. “It lacks any understanding of the real problems and strengths of public education, and it trades in authoritarian tactics and a discourse of demonization and humiliation.” The debate has been reduced to a superhero comic, a simplistic battle between good and evil, a cartoon version of a complex reality. The debate has been reduced to a minor plot point in this election cycle’s “anti-establishment” political narrative.
Adam Bessie at Daily Censored

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