My, how things have changed. My husband and I are going through old boxes of paperwork he inherited, and I came across a teaching contract from 1897.
Of course, I was immediately struck by the salary the teacher earned – $40/month. I can’t even buy a tank of gas for that now. Then, I noticed the outrageous distinction between the “White” and “Colored” Schools on the contract, and was even more thankful that I am not teaching in the “good old days.”
Like many teaching contracts, the job requirements are given in general terms. “The teacher will enforce the course of study prescribed…” I don’t really care for the word, “enforce.” It conjures up visions of teachers as police officers – or jailers.
From my extensive academic research of education in the 19th century (knowledge solely gleaned from reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series AND watching the television show), I know that students were treated a bit differently back then than they are now.
However, Laura Ingalls had a few tricks up her sleeve – and one of them was to develop relationships with her students that encouraged them to respect her, rather than fear her. Ever since I became a teacher, that has been part of my own philosophy.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case with every teacher. Times have changed, but those relationships are still important – maybe even more so – today. And, with these changing times, we need to consider that some other expectations for teachers should be changed as well. “Enforcing” the curriculum is not enough.
With that in mind, I connected wholeheartedly with this video I found on leavingtolearn.org. It basically supports the entire premise of Genius Hour. The video’s narrator mentions that she would like to “tweet these imperatives to every teacher in America.”
I would like to see them on the 21st century teaching contract. Public education has definitely improved in many ways since 1897 – but it could definitely use some more upgrades.
“Enforcing” learning is so yesterday.
For more inspirational videos for teachers, you might want to take a gander at my Pinterest board.