Monday, January 18, 2010

Atlantic Monthly Teaches Us All a Lesson

by special guest blogger North Brooklyn

America, claims the venerable magazine The Atlantic Monthly, is stuffed full of bad teachers. Teach for America has the answer to this problem based on 20 years of data that we should all heed because… they have 20 years of data.

Here is what Teach for America has to share (Insert drum roll here).

Number One: Happy teachers make better teachers.

Number Two: Teacher perseverance in spite of all that surrounds you is the road to student success.

Teach for America’s in-house education guru, Steven Farr, has even written a book, Teaching as Leadership, about the data which will come out in time for all NYC teachers to read during our winter break. No doubt it will be full of examples describing anonymous [which in this new decade means fictional] teacher failures vs. anonymous [fictional] TFA successes.

There is no American journalist who does not want to write a major article for the Atlantic Monthly. But when an article this well, squishy, is published in this magazine it makes the reader wonder if the Atlantic Monthly has abandoned all journalistic criteria.

And if so, is it just the area of education or in all areas? It makes me think, did James Fallows really spend years in China? Or were those marvelous articles just a figment of his imagination as he pecked away at a laptop while in a Chinatown bar slurping up a Mai tai? Maybe Andrew Sullivan is a sophisticated, urbane, political writer, or maybe he’s a retired school nurse living on a pension in Maine who watches a lot of C-Span.

Like its kissing cousin, the New Yorker, if the Atlantic Monthly can’t bring itself to a vigorous analysis of the education industry it may be that it can’t do this in any other area of concern--in which case maybe it’s time for it to shut down. To continue in this way is sad and embarrassing; like seeing a great, old thoroughbred’s heart burst as it tries one more time to reach the finish line first.

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