Teaching to Learn

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I read a very interesting take on the Teach For America program today. (Article here) Briefly Teach for America recruits some of the top US university graduates and gets them to make a 2 year commitment to teaching in resource poor schools. Most of them do rather well but leave teaching after two years. While some see this as a failure others see the two years not as an attempt to recruit career teachers but to allow these "best and brightest" to learn about education from the inside so that they can and will better support it as they go on to other careers. I see some real merit to this idea.
As someone who have been in industry and been in the classroom one thing I have noticed is that a lot of people in industry have no real idea of how education works. Oh they value it a great deal and they are well aware of the problems with the education's systems output. But they have little understanding of the process itself. That does not stop them for making suggestions of course. This goes in spades for elected officials, most of whom have legal not education backgrounds.
Business people tend to think that all organizations are the same. If one can manage a soft drink company one can manage a computer company. If one can manage a company or a military organization one can manage a school system. Well that isn't as true as people would like to think. It is less true, much less, that one can transfer business knowledge to running a school as a business.
Having more people in business and government who have actually spent time in the front lines of education can only help in the long run. As more and more Teach For America "corp members" move up through government and industry we may well see changes in how they interact with education. This seems like a good thing to me.



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