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Teaching & teachers

    My own experience was that, at least for a beginning teacher with
scruples, a very great deal depended upon the administrators (from the
district's "art-consultants" - down through the principal to the senior
teacher in the department) and whether they were either sufficiently
impressed or tolerant enough of one's teaching direction and techniques
or not
    If one is deemed "acceptible" maybe one will make it all the way
through the three years required for tenure.  If not, out you go before
    In my case, having seen teachers with ten or fifteen years
experience but having had to teach in five or six different districts
before making tenure in one, I could not afford that time - I had a
family and a bought house - and so I changed careers after being cut
short in both districts.
    Those who make it and have a sympathetic, supportive district are
most fortunate but their success can be misleading for the new teacher.
    My quarrel with university departments of education was that the
courses were all technical and philosophical - Pestalotzi, Dewey, etc.,
and not a clue about actual skills of surviving in the district setting.

    Someone said that two things are needed in the work-place:  The
skill to do the job and a mastery of its politics.  Guess which one is
most important.
    My favorite story is of the internationally renowned musicologist
who retired in a smallish town in the upper mid-west.  When the
high-school's popular music and band teacher moved on and the district
found itself without a replacement, this man volunteered to take his
    In the first year the sutdents and school loved him.  The band won
district championships, and kids were signing up for class like crazy.
    During the summer it emerged that this man did not have a state
credential.  When he inquired what was needed to get one so he could
continue he was given a list of courses he would have to have taken.
Examining the curricula, he responded "I wrote the texts from which
these courses are being taught."
    That made no difference.  The state refused to grant him a
credential and the right to even teach as a volunteer the second year.
    There are those among us here whose vision is almost limitless as to
what this craft of ours can offer.  There are also those who call those
visions absurd.
    Keep the vision.  Forget the rest.  We, fortunately, are not
required to work "under" anybody here.

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