Just as you get songs stuck in your head, sometimes I get graphs stuck in mine. Like this one:
Now, like any catchy song, this graph runs its risks. The astute and thoughtful Tracy Zager objects to the entire premise of this graph, making three key points:
- Teachers of young, fresh-faced kids need deep content knowledge, too! Try explaining what it means to divide or multiply fractions. It’s shockingly hard! Most high school teachers can’t do it. And yet deep understanding of core concepts like is crucial for elementary teachers.
- Teachers of old, decrepit kids need pedagogical skills, too! It doesn’t matter how expert you are if you only know how to deliver dry-as-chalk-dust lectures and pass out worksheets. You’ve got to meaningfully and creatively engage with your students, whatever their age.
- This zero-sum approach is probably not healthy for teachers!
(For what it’s worth: I totally agree. Check back for a follow-up post soon.)
Still, I hear this graph echoing my experience. It’s not a photorealistic portrait, but it’s a recognizable caricature. The basic ingredients of teaching don’t change, but the recipe does.
The question is: Does this graph show us the world as it should be, or merely the disappointing reality we’ve got now?