Seth’s Blog: Whatever happened to labor?

September 6, 2010

We say we want insightful and brilliant teachers, but then we insist they do their labor precisely according to a manual invented by a committee…

via Seth’s Blog: Whatever happened to labor?.

So as I am sitting back and enjoying Labor Day, I ran into Seth Godin’s comments about modern labor, and of course, this excerpt about teachers.

Seth Godin always has insightful, succinct observations about society, and I recommend that everyone subscribe to his blog if you do not already do so.  It is one of the most popular in the blogosphere and for good reason.

And in this season of teacher-bashing it is nice to see someone appreciate the creative and challenging labor of teachers specifically.  Who hasn’t felt as if creativity is punished while blind obedience is rewarded in their professional life?   After all, as the famous Japanese proverb states:  “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”

Have you ever felt like this:

You must implement the latest pedagogical techniques in order to raise your test scores.  Don’t ask questions about its efficacy, just do it and turn in the paperwork.  Trust us, your test scores will rise.  Never mind your individual student needs.  We will think for you.

Opinions are tolerated, but not valued.  And be careful: Too many opinions and you may get hammered down.

But what really sticks out to me in Seth’s blog is the deeper responsibility we have as teachers of future labor.  Are we training our students in a “Race for the bottom”?  Seth points out that labor traded in its own creativity and innovation for the skill of obedience.  Isn’t that what we do with our students?  I would be lying if I said there were not days when I longed for blind student obedience!

But those days are the exception, and I know that they are for you too.  Teachers work hard to prepare their students for the future.  We reward creativity and acknowledge individual contributions.  We are the enablers of innovation.

Read through Seth’s post.  I think you’ll enjoy it from your perspective as a laborer and from your perspective as an educator.  Let me know what you think.  How are you preparing future labor?


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