Thursday, March 31, 2011

A nice reminder of why we teach

During a time when many public school teachers (and some university professors) face layoffs due to budget problems, here's a nice editorial from the New York Times called "What I Learned at School" about the positive influence teachers have on their students.  (The NYT recently erected a paywall which requires a paid subscription to read the news but I think non-subscribers are supposed to be able to access links to individual items like this. If not, let me know).

As a writer, I often receive feedback from readers I have never met. But the other day, I received a most unexpected message in response to one of my essays:

“I am so proud of you and all you have accomplished. I shared your opinion from The L.A. Times with my family and reminisced about you as my student at Hibbing High School.”

It was signed Margaret Leibfried, who was my English teacher — a teacher who appeared at a critical juncture in my life and helped me believe that I could become a writer.

. . . .

If we want to understand how much teachers are worth, we should remember how much we were formed by our own schooldays. Good teaching helps make productive and fully realized adults — a result that won’t show up in each semester’s test scores and statistics.

That’s easy to forget, as budget battles rage and teacher performance is viewed through the cold metrics of the balance sheet. While the love of literature and confidence I gained from Ms. Leibfried’s class shaped my career and my life, after only four short years at Hibbing High School, she was laid off because of budget cuts, and never taught again.

You may be able to read the rest (or not) by clicking here.


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