We continue to get feedback after the publication Monday of our report on an anonymous teacher’s letter and the perspectives on it offered by school officials and other teachers. GOOD Morning Wilton will keep printing what we hear from professionals in the district.

To the Editor:

I have been teaching reading and writing for over twenty years. My most important pedagogical goal, especially for my sophomores, is paradoxical–at the same time to help my students negotiate uncertainty and to form clear definitions. Each year, whenever I pose a question requiring my students to consider an ambiguous literary passage, no matter what irresolvable issues the passage might address, more and more of my students raise their hands with great confidence and boldly shout out their answer. “Money,” they say. I have been tempted to regard this response as resulting from the way most teenagers, prompted by cognitive predispositions and the consumption of so many commercial messages, tend to skip over any procedures that require time and effort and reflection to adopt the quickest and easiest solution. After all, I now live in a culture that promises that all problems can be resolved speedily by clicking on the right button.

But after reading the recent reactions to the anonymous teacher’s letter I’m less certain that I’m right and that my students are wrong.

Mr. Likely stresses repeatedly that “education is evolving” as well as the necessity of “adapting to change.” His “analytical eye” is focused on “where the district is headed,” which is another way of saying he is focused on the future.

Perhaps following his cue, Mr. Smith strongly rejects the “traditional” and deploys the marketing language of educational consultant Heidi Hayes Jacobs [who was the student teacher in my ninth grade social studies class] to invoke the necessity of rapid “adaptive” change in response to 21st Century pressures such as how “technology continues to accelerate” and perhaps following his cue, the elementary school teachers, Mitchell, O’Keefe, and Catalano invoke a rapidly “changing society.”

This is all very heady stuff and no doubt I need to overcome my old fashioned conviction that arguments need to make sense or that slow moving scholars and the past are more relevant to schools than fast acting marketers, corporate strategists, or the future. No doubt I need to achieve what Mr. Likely calls “a greater level of communication” before I can see as clearly and distinctly into tomorrowland as my bold and visionary leaders, but wait! I just might know from my pre-corporate students the answer to the mysterious riddle of the future–“Money!?”

Matthew Kobin
Wilton High School

One reply on “Teacher Letter: What Motivates “Visionary Leaders”? Money”

  1. In the age of Twitter, parents are relying on teachers like you to help students develop thoughtful responses, articulate arguements, write papers, and become critical thinkers. Keep up the good work and don’t settle for mediocre effort on the part of the student.

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