A Privilege Teachers Take for Granted

Nobody wants their pilot to be creative.

Imagine being an airline passenger and hearing the announcement:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign.  If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.  Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt low and tight around your hips.  The captain has thought up a new technique for landing that no one has ever tried before and he wants to give it a go …”

No, we want our surgeons, financiers, and engineers to follow their training with precision.  Deviation is called “negligence”.  Experimentation has no place in the work of a dentist or paramedic.  I’m sure these high-status careers have many draw-cards, but the opportunity to innovate isn’t one of them.  In contrast, nothing prevents a teacher from experimenting with a new approach, except her own lack of initiative, imagination or perhaps time.

There is an old saying that “Ten years in teaching is one year repeated ten times”.  That is sad if true – given the procedural latitude we have in our classrooms.  That latitude is an under-rated privilege of our profession that many other professions don’t share.

What’s stopping you from doing something completely different and experimental in your next class?


2 thoughts on “A Privilege Teachers Take for Granted

  1. Hi Andrew,

    This is very true. You shouldn’t get into teaching if you’re looking for a job of precision and repetition. I know I couldn’t stand being in a job where I’d have to do the same thing over and over again. So I think that is one of the perks of teaching. Every day is different (if you want it to be!)

    It’s funny, when I was reading your post, I thought the angle you might go with was that lots of jobs don’t have room for innovation, so perhaps sometimes we shouldn’t encourage creativity and innovation as much to prepare students for those jobs.

    I have to say I prefer your version of the post….over the version I was predicting!


    • That is the last thing you are likely to hear me say! Haha! I would be more likely to say that we should be discouraging our students from pursuing procedure-based careers based on precision and repetition, because these are careers that can be automated – and are becoming automated. Thanks for your comments Kathleen.

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