Michael Hawley Director of Special Projects and Founder of MIT's GO Expeditions Program
I was thinking about the role that teachers play in the schools, and it is sort of a facile way of dismissing our education system as broken. It's broken in the United States, or it's nonexistent in the developing world, and the only way out is to give the kids tools they can use to teach themselves. Screw the teachers, screw the schools. And I think that's a cop-out. We talked earlier about the overhyping of sports figures and movie stars. The underhyping of teachers is a much more profound problem than I think anybody is paying attention to. We can't possibly do enough to help grow better teachers, to help people fulfill themselves in that role.
I think of schools as a tripod. We've got the students, the teachers, and the families and if one leg on the tripod is broken, if you come from a broken home or if you're a profoundly de-motivated student or if you're a desperately corrupt and lousy teacher, then the whole thing collapses. If you've got a collapsed tripod, you can throw all the computers in the mix you want, but the engine's not gonna suddenly start humming. On the other hand, if all three of those legs are really engaged, then it doesn't matter whether it's a pencil or a paintbrush or a piano or a computer, the kids can do amazing things.
The role of the teacher as the catalyst there just can't be emphasized enough. And I think the ways that those inspirations can be shared through communications networks go way beyond our first glimmers of open source at MIT and podcasts from Stanford and so forth. We're just at the beginning of that, but we can't leave the role of teacher in the dust in our zeal to lay out more tools for kids to play with and learn with. We have to work even harder to help more people go into that line of work.
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