Maybe Someone Will Listen to the Rocket Scientist (Nah.)

Posted on December 18, 2013Filed Under Guest artist, Teaching | Leave a Comment

One of my standard lines when the kids are being particularly thick-headed about something that we’ve already covered about fitty times is,

“It ain’t rocket science people.”

Turns out it is. At least for me.

Check this headline:

Teaching Isn’t Rocket Science. It’s Harder.

And the best part is that it’s written by an actual rocket scientist. He quit working for NASA to join TFA and is now teaching math and robotics in Colorado Springs.

I won’t summarize the piece too much, because I want you to read it, but the part of it that told me that he actually understands what it takes to be a teacher was this (emphasis mine):

One of the biggest misconceptions about teaching is that it is a single job. Teaching is actually two jobs. The first job is the one that teachers are familiar with; people who have not taught can pretend it doesn’t exist. The tasks involved in this first job include lesson planning, grading, calling parents, writing emails, filling out paperwork, going to meetings, attending training, tutoring, and occasionally sponsoring a club or coaching a sport. The time allotted to teachers for this work is usually one hour per workday. But these tasks alone could easily fill a traditional 40-hour work week.

The second job is the teaching part of teaching, which would more aptly be called the performance. Every day, a teacher takes the stage to conduct a symphony of human development.  A teacher must simultaneously explain the content correctly, make the material interesting, ensure that students are staying on task and understanding the material, and be ready to deal with the curve balls that will be thrown at her every 15 seconds—without flinching—for five hours. If, for some reason, she is not able to inspire, educate, and relate to 30 students at once, she has to be ready to get them back on track, because no matter what students say or do to detract from the lesson, they want structure, they want to learn, and they want to be prepared for life.

As the tag-line of this very blog says: Five shows a day, 180 days a year.

Also this:

As an engineer, I dealt with very complex design problems, but before I decided how to solve them, I had a chance to think, research, and reflect for hours, days, or even weeks. I also had many opportunities to consult colleagues for advice before making any decisions. As a teacher, I have seconds to decide how to solve several problems at once, for hours at a time, without any real break, and with no other adults in the room to support them. There are days of teaching that make a day in the office seem like a vacation.

This guy must be a rocket scientist, because he gets it!

Then I read the comments.

sigh.

Here’s the link again: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2013/12/teaching_in_america_s_highest_need_communities_isn_t_rocket_science_it_s.html

 

Comments

Leave a Reply