“I fully understand that our nation is currently facing an extreme shortage of teachers and that we all have to make do with what we can get. But does that really mean we have to be stuck with some privileged college grad who completed a five-week training program and now wants to document every single moment of her life-changing year on a Tumblr?”
—This Point/Counterpoint on The Onion.
Being a privileged college grad that had no training program, is moving on to another career, and documented many moments of my life-changing year on Tumblr, I’ve got to admit: I found this piece really funny. In a good way.
I actually sort of agree with most of the points made here. However, I think it somewhat unfairly places the focus of the problem on the individuals themselves. We have a really big problem in our teaching recruitment, retention, and support systems such that these kinds of programs are prevalent and somewhat necessary. And all emotions and defenses aside, I think we can admit that it doesn’t contribute as much as we might want to creating a sustainable, effective teaching force. In addition (and who knows, I may be guilty of it myself), I think there’s a certain amount of caution and awareness we have to exercise in preventing our students from becoming merely objects and puzzle pieces in our stories of personal growth. So sure, I think there are a lot of problems.
But at the same time, I think pieces like this, as well as pieces attacking programs like TFA, sort of miss the target when they bemoan the individuals participating in the programs. If they conduct themselves in a manner that is professional and effective while also demonstrating a sense of cultural competence, I think they’re just filling a gap where the system has failed. No, it’s not great that they aren’t sticking around. But in the meanwhile, what are you going to do?
So I can respect people’s right to be mad. I just wonder if people are mad in the right direction.