The playground of ideas

I’ve intentionally kept my writings here away from the topic of my employ, that being education. But I’m going to begin documenting some of my thoughts related to the subject both because I’m out of other ideas (one can only talk so much about Orks) and because I feel it timely to get some of these reflections down. And, not counting my last little blurb, we begin with a rather sad subject.

In an ongoing grasp at political points Ronald Dion Desantis said the following: “[My campaign] would prefer people with real world experience and academic proficiency in the core subjects they’re teaching, English, math, science. Not saying ‘oh I went to the school of education somewhere and they taught me kind of how to teach.”

Quotes out of context are not ideal but one need know little about Mr. Desantis to understand that he is saying what he means, or least what he means to say. It’s not that he has any true cognitive mastery of the field of education or the trickier business of running a publicly funded school system, it’s just that he says such stuff during a campaign season on his apparent ascension to the esteemed position of crown-prince of MAGAtry. It’s easy to dismiss such statements out of hand, as one would perhaps the comments of an esteemed step-mom who, after a few glasses and remembering she has a gay niece, confidently offers choice words about “the wokes” at the Thanksgiving table. And, again, the trouble is not so much that a public figure says ridiculous things like this, it’s that they carry real influence.

I’m reminded of when our former governor, and actual sack of potatoes, Sonny Perdue sought to compare teachers to college football coaches. The analogue just doesn’t work.

There are countless analogues, and more will follow when I get back to the illustrious god-emperor of Florida, but to set public school teacher alongside college football coach is ridiculous in the extreme. On the one hand you have a team of persons who actively chose to be there; they have years of background on the subject; they feel some amount of passion for it and receive some kind of compensation even if it’s just by way of esteem (don’t get me started on college athletes but they at least get something tangible for their efforts compared to the average public school student). On the other hand is room full of mostly strangers, legally forced to arrive; many have little-to-no background or passion; there is very little, if any, tangible reward within the system given to success; there is no social clout offered the subject at hand. It’s just school.

The general public, it would seem, doesn’t care to understand such subtlety. They would rather hear what they want to hear from a Perdue or a Desantis or some other unfortunate and go on about their day.

Speaking of which, Desantis’ example is equally insane to Perdue’s. Saying you’d rather have an “expert” on a subject run things, as opposed to a trained teacher, is akin to saying, “I want the best bakery, so I want it to be run by the best bakers in the world.” On paper this sounds right but, if you recall, a bakery is a business. In order for it to stay afloat, and not merely crank out world-class cakes and cronuts until the end of its short-lived run, it must be led by those that know a thing or two about baking and managing a business. You can leave the Coca-cola company to be administered by the finest chemists and mixologists in the land, but if they don’t know squat about payroll or marketing then you’re going to have delicious beverages sitting in a warehouse somewhere in Peachtree City with said chemists and mixologists sleeping on the street, wondering where things took a turn for the worst.

Likewise, I can have firsthand experience in the Knesset but that means exactly zero if I don’t know how to make a bunch of bored and horny twelve-year-olds listen to me talk about Israeli governmental structure. Teachers have to understand their subject matter and the science of classroom management. Just like a business, it requires both knowledge of the content and managerial skill.

I offer as much credence to the words of power-hungry politicians as I do an over-tired toddler, but I reiterate my earlier point: when they say dumb stuff that sounds good but falsely undermines the value and administration of schools in this country we will all suffer. And do.


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