Teachers as Puppets?

The latest reminder that freedom of speech for teachers in K-12 is an illusion came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati on Oct. 21. In Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education of the Tipp City Exempted Village School District, the court ruled that teachers cannot make their own curricular decisions.

The latest court ruling couldn’t have come at a worse time. Reformers are demanding that teachers turn out students who can think critically. But if teachers are threatened with the loss of their jobs for trying to reach this goal by the use of new ideas, then who is going to want to teach?

The direction education seems to be heading (at least in the U.S. – although these things often find there way to the Great White North) the question asked in this excerpt “who is going to teach?” is a good one. Increasingly teachers are being forced into the role of technician. Just do as you are told! Don’t think for yourself, we know best! It seems like some people would be happy if teachers were robots – or puppets to their masters to those who know better! Yes, there must be accountability, teachers must serve their community and there are some lines that should not be crossed (hate, prejudice …), but let teachers, as professionals, do what they were hired for; to raise questions, to help students develop critical and creative thinking skills, to help their students learn. If teachers have their hands tied and have to simply recite a prepared lesson from a script, then the question again is: who would want to teach?

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