Letters to the Editor

Teachers a small part of education

Former staff and teachers stand in front of the stage at the Bayshore High School graduation ceremony held at the Bradenton Area Convention Center Friday night.
Former staff and teachers stand in front of the stage at the Bayshore High School graduation ceremony held at the Bradenton Area Convention Center Friday night. ttompkins@bradenton.com

Who should be blamed?

Too often, individuals criticize teachers for one reason or another — or another. Frequently, those critics have never enjoyed the opportunity of being alone in a room with 25 to 30 of someone else’s kids.

Form a group of your neighbors and create a list of ways that a young child might learn. Your list will seem almost endless — because it is almost endless.

During 40 years in public education, one of the greatest pieces of research that I ever read was conducted by Dr. Barry Fraser, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, W. Australia. His research included a mega-analysis of thousands of studies having to do with school and instructional effectiveness. In total, those studies involved about 10 million persons.

Quoting Fraser, “Because schooling occupies only about 13 percent of the waking hours of the first 18 years of life, schools cannot be blamed fairly for all our educational problems.”

A significant finding in Fraser’s research was that not any one way of learning can account for more than 50 percent of a child’s total learning. So, before you blame the teacher, take a closer look at each individual student. Review the exhaustive kinds of families, TV times and kinds of programs, the multitude of technologies, the number of groups to which any child might belong, mental ranges, and every conceivable factor; then draw your conclusion about who or what is to blame.

Most teachers come into their chosen profession because they believe that they can help children learn. Given the endless list of rules and pressures, a good teacher does her or his best every single day. Each teacher must be held accountable, but only for that part of a child’s learning that is clearly within the range of a teacher’s responsibility.

Len Sirotzki

Bradenton

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