Published on -10/1/2013, 10:42 AM
The Kansas Policy Institute narrative sounds suspiciously like the old cliche, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." It assumes that the only qualification for teaching is strong content knowledge instead of being just the first step of many.
You know what? I used to agree. I thought just knowing physics and chemistry and math at a very deep level would be enough to teach high school students.
I was so wrong.
Teaching is considerably more than just transmitting knowledge from teacher to students. It's all too true that "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." We need teachers who understand how their students' minds are growing and changing, the many ways they process information, why a free public education is vital for all Kansans, how to handle students' interpersonal issues, how to mitigate the effects of home poverty, how to create a welcoming stable safe classroom, the many pitfalls students encounter as they learn various topics ... the list goes on.
If Bill Gates sincerely wanted to teach Hays High School students about computer science he could take one of several alternate certification routes, like the Transition to Teaching or the Project mNet programs available at Fort Hays State University. Gates would just need to persuade our school board to hire him, find a mentor teacher at the school, pass a background check with fingerprinting, and complete some online coursework during his first few years of teaching.
The KPI wouldn't propose drastic shortcuts to teaching if they genuinely respected the profession. They're saying if you're a good driver, you're automatically qualified to build a car from scratch.
Evidently, they're not worried about stranding our children along the highway.