Monday, January 26, 2009

There Are No Shortcuts

I read this great book called There Are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith. I'm not a teacher yet, but he definitely put a lot of the realities of teaching into perspective for me. It was really interesting to read, although at the beginning I was a little thrown off by his sarcastic way of writing. However, it grew on me, and I found myself laughing during a lot of the stories he shared about his students. I wrote down my favorite quotes, since I borrowed the book from the library, and wanted to share some with you guys. But mostly for my own record. :)

*****

"We teachers are all boxers. We get hit a lot. I've been knocked down so many times I'm often woozy. But I've learned something in my first nineteen years in the classroom: all teachers, even the best ones, get knocked down. The difference between the best ones and the others is that the best ones always get up to answer the bell. May you always get up. It is a child ringing the bell, and he needs your help."

"As many teachers will admit about themselves, I was completely incompetent during my first few years in the classroom, but at least I figured out one thing. I discovered I wasn't going to be happy living a life to please others. I needed to live a life helping others. I wanted to be in a school where children didn't go to hotels. I desired to go where children not only didn't own books but didn't even know where the local library was."

"Everything has become too easy for our young people, and we make things worse by lying to them. We don't help them face reality. Teachers and schools lie to children and their parents all the time. We have courses for middle-school students called 'pre-algebra'. Pre-algebra? This term is a euphemism. These students never mastered basic arithmetic and are not ready for algebra when other kids their age are."

"But the warning is here for all you young teachers who dare to be first rate - there will be many who try to stop you. Outstanding teaching requires you not only to do everything in your power to reach your students but to battle forces that are supposed to be on your side. You may be lucky and wind up in that rare school or district where those in charge support your efforts. However, it is not unusual for people more concerned with money, politic, and power to hinder the efforts of dedicated teachers. So be prepared to battle, unless you want to be like everyone else."

"What do you stand for? My father taught me that a person who stands for nothing will fall for anything. The best teachers stand for a set of principles on which they will not compromise."

" With better vision, we sacrifice for students for whom that sacrifice will most likely pay off. Im sorry to say this, but there are times when even superhuman effort will not save a child from his environment or himself. It is not the job of the teacher to save a child's soul; it is the teacher's job to provide an opportunity for the child to save his own soul."

"I have a code, as any good teacher or parent must have. It doesn't matter if I lost a battle yesterday. It doesn't matter if the odds are against me. It doesn't matter if I'm just one fellow trying to fight television, corporations, and a society that hasn't yet achieved Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of judging someone by the content of his character."

"There are many teachers in our system who can't do basic arithmetic and show no desire to better themselves for the sake of their students. I wonder if our society would be tolerant of general medical practitioners who didn't know their basic anatomy. Yet we tolerate ignorant teachers and are paying a terrible price for our apathy."

"I have since learned the best reason to take students on the road: children learn and understand how to behave by being exposed to new situations and watching others."

*****
Good read. For those of you who are going into teaching, read this book!

1 comment:

Mei-Ling said...

Dear Mel,
It is great to read such kind of book, I think that will help you a lot and do well prepared for a good teacher.
God Bless you & I love you.