It’s happening again. There’s another Teacher Basher in the crowd. In an airport this time…probably not the best place to confront a total stranger and begin an argument. I mean, they won’t even let me take my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion through security; do you think they’ll let me stand up at the gate to a plane and yell my position?
I first picked up on his (exceedingly loud) telephone conversation when he said that “history is nothing but memorizing.” I was ready then to present my counterpoint, that in schools today we don’t teach memorization. We teach thinking. I’m not even a history teacher, but I can just hear my colleagues across the country asking their students, “What if we had lost the Revolutionary War? How would we be different?” And then I hear my students answering, “We would all talk like Harry Potter and drink tea in the afternoons. Cool!”
But just as I was forming my remarks in my mind, the overly loud phone conversationalist said this: “It’s just because the teacher is bad. Face it. It’s a public school. Teachers are bad in public schools. If you’re lucky you’ll come across a couple of good ones. I had a few good ones in school. But most are bad.”
I choked on my airport “you have to check in way too early” breakfast muffin and listened. He continued so long that I considered handing him a thesaurus so that he could look up some alternatives for the word “bad.” Michael Jackson fan, I guess. Or a goat (baaa…aaa…ddd…)
Not a teacher fan.
Interestingly, I’m in this airport because I’m returning home from a teacher conference, a State Teacher of the Year conference, in fact, where I have spent the week exchanging ideas, laughter, and tears with the best and brightest, as well as some of the most inspiring and motivated, teachers across the country.
So here I sit faced with a dilemma. I have things to say about teachers. I have strong opinions about the phrase “bad teachers.” But to stand up and attempt a conversation with this man, this total stranger, when I am alone in this airport, would most likely be futile and would give him more fuel to add to his fire, to add to his negative opinion of teachers.
So I make a vow to myself to work harder at changing the public’s perception of teachers. And although I can make presentations to educator groups, stand in front of thousands, shout from the mountaintops (or at least across the blog-o-sphere), I think the place I can make the most difference is in my very own classroom. I need to make sure that none of my students’ parents ever refer to me in a conversation that echoes across an airport.
That would be baaa...aaa…ddd.