Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Props to teachers

I find it disheartening that in the U.S., the concept of teachers and students is relegated almost completely to the formal schools and universities.

One of my favorite lectures during my business studies was given by a small, bearded man named Michael Kami.. He told us of his life as an immigrant and path through the business world. Students marveled as his $10K/hr consulting fee. What struck me though, was his background. Was his degree in organizational management? An MBA from Wharton? Maybe the Saïd  Business school at Oxford? Nope. His degrees were in education (from state schools no-less). He said his job as a consultant was the same as teaching. You go in, you find out what's needed, and you show people the best way to change themselves to achieve desired results. I don't think I'll ever forget that lecture.

Kano sensei teaching uki goshi

In researching my last post, I learned that Kano Jigoro's day job was at a university. He was a professor of economics at Komaba agricultural college. I believe it was his drive as a teacher, not as a martial artist, that gave birth to what we all now practice as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Reading of his life off the mats, I was honestly surprised. He served as director of primary education at the Ministry of Education, traveled through Europe and China, establishing a program that allowed Chinese students to study in Japan. This man lived the the life of a true Teacher and it was no surprise that he sent Maeda Mitsuyo to Brazil to spread the word of Kodokan Judo.

The very essence of teaching is something special. Real Teachers...real, quality Teachers believe that their students can achieve what they're being taught. They inspire genuinely and effortlessly, they give of self and they allow themselves to be transformed by the experience of guiding another human being. Coming from a family of teachers, I have immense respect for the profession, and consequently, disgust at those who take the position as just a paycheck. I love Matt I feel like his comments below missed the mark and are part of the problem we have in our educational system now.

That said, I'm thankful that BJJ seems to attract so many minds that are constantly at work on the best ways to break down this complex and confusing art. Roy Dean's, Saulo Ribeiro's and Stephan Kesting's works have saved me much pain. I've heard so many amazing things about John Danaher, I'd love to just watch him give a lesson, just to see how he communicates jiu jitsu.

So yes...much respect to all you great teachers out there.

*I don't disagree because he didn't have grounds to be insulted as an actor, but instead because a title alone does not make someone a good teacher, or even a mediocre one. It doesn't mean they give one iota of a thought to the well being of their students. (I'm personally anti-tenure the way it stands now) Not all teachers "just want to teach". I've done enough time in school to have met enough that didn't care if their students learned, and a few horrible ones that enjoyed watching them fail. I believe that the attitude that anyone who goes into teaching is inherently giving and motivated is the other side of the corporatization of education he mentioned.


Shark Girl said...

As a teacher, I think most people have misinformation about what tenure is. Tenure does not mean that a teacher cannot be fired. Tenure means that a teacher cannot be fired without just cause.

In most other settings, employees have three months during which a company can fire them for no reason. After that they must supply a reason. In teaching, depending on the state and its laws, that time period is usually three years. So, a teacher can work at a job for three years and then their employer can fire them without any reason at all. At the beginning of the fourth year, the employer must show that a teacher is incompetent before firing them.

What is wrong with that? If a teacher is truly incompetent, it should be easy to prove. I think what ends up happening is that proving incompetence takes time and energy from an overworked administration. Many tend to look the other way.

I have worked in business and education. Believe me, there are plenty of incompetent people hanging around offices, too, because no one has the energy to prove they should be fired. I bet everyone with a job can name some names. And why do they always make more money than we do??

Megan said...

Let me first say that I draw a distinct line between the office and any human service. There's much more at stake than a few dollars and a stock price in schools. That said, I know a TON of people in offices (I used to be one) that are just as educated and make less than your average teacher (especially when you factor in actual time worked year 'round) and get inferior benefits, but comparing the two types of jobs isn't the point.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in rewarding teachers for their work and effort and I believe they're generally under paid and under-appreciated, but I don't believe in securing positions for any time solely based on time accrued in any situation. Too many cracks for bad people, or simply ineffective people to slip through. The concept of tenure concerns me less in business (if it existed) than it does in education...why? Because I've run into too many bitter professors and callous teachers that are so deeply entrenched in the system that, despite the fact that they may be providing their students little to no benefit, they continue getting paid and sucking up valuable educational time in a student's life. They're definitely in the minority, but they do exist and they do cause damage.

I do think it's wrong that incompetence is the only reason someone can be fired. There's malice, prejudice, emotional abuse...all things I've seen in both higher education and prior and things that are almost impossible to prove. It annoys me in the workplace, but there's too much at stake in a student's life to allow the practice to continue unchanged. I think it could easily be replaced with some other type of that doesn't leave students quite so vulnerable to people who are no longer performing their jobs...maybe even one that gives newer teachers more rewards for showing more benefit to their students.