We need more honesty in education and fewer platitudes and false idealism. Far too often, educators willing to call out problematic aspects of their jobs or raise criticisms are being labeled as negative or accused of bashing teachers. Yet, in reality, they want nothing more than to lift up their profession and make learning better for kids.
If all we ever focus on is sunshine and roses, we will fail to see the opportunities for growth and change. Yes, there are great things about our jobs and they should be celebrated and shared. However, ignoring those negative aspects will do more harm in the long run. I love teaching but there are aspects of our profession which are not ideal. We can’t shy away from the realities of our jobs, both good and bad.
There are teachers in schools which shouldn’t be working with kids. We have administrators who are out of touch with what is happening in their own buildings. Students in many schools do not have access to quality textbooks, curriculum or even nutritious food. Even worse are the conditions in schools serving communities with lower income. I’m sure many of us could list many more areas of concern or problems in our schools or communities. If we only share the positives, we create a false sense of reality. If we don’t call out the negatives or areas of concerns, how will we ever grow or improve?
Furthermore, we need to raise more questions and push back more often. We are currently in the era of social media self-promotion and edu-celebrities are on every corner. Spend a few minutes on twitter and you will be overwhelmed with people selling their books, tweeting un-inspiring quotes, or bragging about themselves. We need to be better consumers of this content and push back on the fluff and be critical of the message. We should not drink the Kool-Aid without a heavy dose of skepticism and critical thinking.
I fear we have too many educators not willing to engage in the tough conversations we should be having. Yes, there is a method and manner in which these conversations should be happening. Professionalism and civility should always come first. However, we should not shy away from a conversation because we are uncomfortable. If we want to be better, we must welcome criticism and call it like we see it, even when it doesn’t look good.