Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Value of Teachers

My alma mater has a contest in which it gives substantial awards to innovators in education. It hopes that giving an incentive will help those with new ideas bring those ideas into fruition. We need new ideas because many of the old ones either haven't worked out, or haven't been allowed to not work out. One way or another, we need something to work out.

I have met a lot of bright kids who simply don't understand the world. I have met adults who are in the same boat. In my mind education isn't about getting a job, though one does need to pay the bills, but rather having the tools needed to understand what is going on around ones self and being able to find a way to employ an individual's talents and dreams in whatever environment they find themselves in. That is education. Education requires teachers.

Teacher's need not be formal, be housed in a school or program, but they are necessary. We, at least in America, do not place the value on teaching as a profession that it deserves. We are more willing to reward quarterbacks and pop-stars than we are those who teach reading and math. I'm not really comfortable with that... but thanks to economics teachers in college, I understand how we got to this point.

Penn partners with the Milken Family Foundation to fund their education innovation contest. Winners need not be teachers, or schools, but they do need to have an idea that teaches. Lowell Milken said, "Only when society demonstrates respect for educators will the brightest and most capable students choose it as their profession." he was right.

I worked for a school that had a special, and expensive, program for people who had already graduated from college, but were willing to take extra science classes, just to be more competitive applicants to medical school. In talking with potential applicants it was obvious that the majority of these students were not motivated by saving lives, but rather motivated by the idea of becoming a doctor. Why? Because society demonstrates a respect for doctors. It demonstrates this in money as well as prestige. The same is not true for those who lay the foundation for those wishing to become doctors.

It isn't logical. Those who claim economics is logical are in many ways, illogical.

What good is saving a life if the life being lived is unfulfilled? Teachers help us learn how lives get fulfilled.

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