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Education Disrupted — We do not live; we consume

From the NYT today, Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

Does the term "Brand-name teacher" make anyone else's skin crawl?

I must be an old soul for longing for the days of quiet professionalism, where laboring in obscurity in a societal role was met with regard and enough coin to make a living. Did those days ever exist? You'll have to tell me. My entire life I have only known an America of braggadocio, self-branding, mercenarism, marketing, hustle, and the erosion of dignity in the hope of sales.

The lucre-sucking maw of our billionaire oligarchs has been feeding on the education system for decades now. Segregation (oh yeah, it never stopped), lousy charter schools,  labyrinths of expensive, nerve-wracking, and largely pointless testing, and the gradual degradation of teaching have all delivered body blows to the instrument that in theory is supposed to children for the future.

And maybe it's working just the way it's supposed to! School with metal detectors preparing children for prison, underfunded schools with checked-out teachers preparing students for societal neglect, even good schools with a life-or-death view of achievement are preparing "good" (white, rich) students for their future self-importance and neurotisism.

And of course, the infinite hustle of the personal brand coming to teachers. Hard to blame the teachers for this one, given the no-good-options they are given, but it still feels icky to have corporations showering gifts upon teachers and teachers viewing their educational role as a marketing opportunity. I can already see the quiet dignity that many of my thank-God excellent teachers had being replaced by the desperate hero-worship and feckless copycatism that we see on the Amazon book charts.

One or two authors strike it rich with a book about sexy vampires and now a hoard of copycats, a sea of sexy vampire books drowning all horizons. One or two teachers strike it rich with their "starbucks classroom" and now a thousand classrooms in America transformed. I gotta admit though—a classroom teaching third graders to tweet in a Starbucks will definitely prepare them for a world where all wisdom has been expunged.

Every fall, for instance, Ms. Delzer holds a social media boot camp to teach her students how to run the class Instagram and Twitter accounts. She teaches them rules like “never share your password” and helps them understand how to maintain an upbeat online image.
God. Damn. It. 

My crazy approach would be to treat teaching like a real profession, recruit good candidates, pay them well, and give them more or less free reign to work with their students. That way they don't need to build brands or sell access to children for t-shirts and pencils. They could just teach. And while we're being crazy, I wouldn't let kids look at screens until they were in fifth grade.

We are not human beings. We are buyers and sellers. We do not live. We consume.

The School of Athens (cropped)

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