How much trust do parents place in their child’s teacher? Maybe more than you think.
The BATS were celebrating Thanksgiving this week with Thank You tweets about teachers and other school personnel. As a nation, I hope we can return to the time when we trusted teachers to be the good and decent professionals they are and quit trying to replace them with computers and/or temporary novices.
I am thinking about this today as I start gearing up for Thanksgiving.
Every year, if I am to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, I take out my Watson and Edge—Tears of Joy CD. The music is lighthearted and autumn-like and it makes for the perfect sound in the background as I try to concentrate on recipes. I play it over-and-over just before, and then on the big day after the Macy’s Parade, and the Best in Show Doggie contest…if I don’t drive anyone crazy with it.
My husband stumbled upon these two musicians years ago as they were performing in a public square in Chicago. He was surprised to see that as they performed, they had a box where people could drop money to purchase a CD. No one watched the box. Anyone could have walked away with the money or a CD without paying.
My husband, who is a professor and has done studies on fraud, was so curious about this set-up that he contacted Mr. Watson to see if people were honest, or if they lost money in the process. He believed that most likely they didn’t lose much money at all, and he was right. He also devised a case study where he asked his students what they thought would happen.
You will be happy to hear, that according to Mr. Watson, most people were honest and paid fully for the CDs. They had no reservations collecting money this way. Yet, when surveyed, many students believed that people would not be honest in a situation like that and could not be trusted. They figured, without knowing the facts, that Watson and Edge probably lost money.
So people buying the CDs could be trusted, but people in general didn’t believe that would be the case. They saw the worst in people.
This reminds me of a lot of scenarios in today’s world, but I will focus on education.
I think it is sort of similar to the Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poles that for years indicated that parents loved their children’s public school. However, they believed the rest of the public schools in America were lousy. They didn’t trust other schools—schools they didn’t really know.
But if so many liked their own public school—public schools were pleasing a lot of parents!
Why did people think other schools were bad? They heard it on the media and they read it in the newspapers. They learned to distrust other schools and teachers. But they believed in their own schools because they saw firsthand that their teachers and schools were good.
Most of us trust our children’s teachers, but education reformers, with the help of the mainstream media, have painted teachers as failures for the last 30 years. There is no proof of this—on the contrary—teachers have instructed students well and our public schools were never failing.
Teaching used to be one of the most trusted professions in the country! Children grew up wanting to be teachers and the role was valued immensely.
If the reformers had not spread the negative message, if they had not changed the nature of education through high-stakes testing, parents would have, most likely, continued to trust their children’s teachers.
Trusting a teacher doesn’t mean they will always succeed at teaching, and parents should communicate with their child’s teacher to monitor what they do working with their student. The parent-teacher relationship is most important.
Sometimes there are teachers who should have never become teachers who truly don’t do a good job. And sometimes teachers do the best job possible and the student might not make progress, or the progress isn’t seen right away.
But the same can be said for any profession. You have good doctors who fight against disease but the patient still doesn’t make it. Lawyers argue on behalf of a client but they still lose the case. Sometimes we know doctors and lawyers we dislike too. Yet, no one is saying every doctor or lawyer should be fired when they fail, or that their profession needs to open the door to transitory workers. We all continue to have some degree of trust in them.
Why are teachers any different? Why have educational reformers been allowed to promote the message that there is a perfect teacher prototype that will work for all students—a perfect teacher? A robot!
Also, everyone trusts my cooking on Thanksgiving. I have never made anyone sick, but honestly, my meals vary from year to year. Sometimes they rival a four star restaurant. Other times…well they’re so so. Maybe a new recipe didn’t work out as planned. Yet, my family and friends show up on Thanksgiving when I cook—maybe they still trust me and know I aim to please.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and it is my wish that Americans replace distrust with trust in the country’s teachers. Give them tears of joy this holiday season. See how you can support them in their serious obligation to instruct and help your child be the best that they can be.
TRUST what’s real!