02 Apr

i was listening to a new yorker podcast with malcolm gladwell (yes, i’m on a gladwell kick i guess) and this one was about the nature of geniuses, in specific geniuses at young ages versus geniuses at later ages.  it was an interested conversation that he had with the interviewer and it began with painters and poets, eventually moving to musicians.  it got me thinking about teachers.  i remember in graduate school having a great debate about the assertion that great teachers are that way due to their nature, not because of how they were nurtured through the education process.  however, i never gave much thought to that age of a teacher other than perhaps it being a function of their experience, which is what i focused on.  is it possible that the sum of a teachers experiences in the classroom would develop them into a better teacher?  i know that young teachers lack perspective but they also lack the cynicism that i see in some more experienced teachers that i see.  this is NOT an indictment of experienced teachers, but there is a reason why their are urban legends about the jaded teacher who does nothing but gripe in the teachers lounge.  back to gladwell, you rarely will find a new teacher who is a master teacher, generally it is though experience and lessons learned that master teachers get that way.  i think you could find some that are quick studies though.  i wonder what a study would yield if we looked at classroom teachers when they retired.  would we find more that loved what they did every day, or more that were eventually just counting down the days?  would we find teachers who were better the day they stopped teaching than the day they started?


Posted by on April 2, 2009 in Uncategorized


5 responses to “vintage

  1. Heather Tate

    April 6, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I like the new look of your blog, by the way. Great post! I honestly can say that I was better teacher when I was “green.” That was why I knew I needed to make a change because the last couple of years of teaching, I found myself “counting the days” until summer.

  2. Janice D.

    April 6, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I agree that I was a better teacher on my second year than my first, and was even better on my third year than my second. But up to what level will there be a direct correlation? This reminded me of the Law of Diminishing Returns where at some point, the additional input no longer gives you the same output. If I slurped on 1 glass of strawberry smoothie, would I get the same satisfaction if I had 4 more glasses of it? For teachers, the additional years might no longer yield improvement; instead it might even decrease the teacher’s effectiveness. Maybe giving them something different, like a banana berry smoothie might help.

  3. karen vanek

    April 7, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I disagree that more experienced teachers begin to “count the days” until whatever will release them from the classroom. If a teacher is as passionate about learning and engages his/her students in this passion, then there’s never enough time to pursue the passion to learn more and more from your students. These kind of life long learners count the days, but mourn that there are so few days left to share in the passion of learning with their students.

  4. texasbuckeye

    April 7, 2009 at 8:16 am

    karen – i too don’t believe that only experienced teachers count the days, in fact, some younger (ill fitting) teachers did the same thing. i think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to having passion for what you do.

  5. the pistol

    July 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Here are some tales from a somewhat jaded teacher/disciplinarian that you might find interesting.


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