Why can’t teachers improve public education?

The elephant in the room of school improvement discussions is the educatedness of the teaching force. During their own school-going days, teachers were taught to be understanding, strong, and generous. Unfortunately, they were also taught to be unimaginative, fearful of truth, and proud. Therefore, even with new technologies, teaching materials and opportunities, teachers lack the imagination, courage, and humility needed to create richer classroom experiences.

You can’t see this, however, if your definition of “educated” is being knowledgeable and skillful, or having college degrees. All recommendations for improving education are rooted in the definition of “educated.” Are teachers asking what it means to be educated in their public school or school of choice? Are parents asking what it means to be educated when they choose a school?

Oh — I forgot — that would require imagination, strength and humility. If we mix metaphors here, we have a Catch-22. Those who want to improve America’s public schools lack the virtues needed to improve them because they attended them. That is a large elephant.

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