Friday, November 27, 2015

Or a Teacher...

This is in response to "Keep the Light Shining Brightly"

Dear Stacy Abramson,

Your vision for Bright is exciting, and I am very confident you will continue the great work started by Sarika Bansal. Bright is a consistent source of innovative writing and perspective about education. It has been my pleasure watching it grow while getting the opportunity to contribute a few stories. I enjoy the often broad approach to education. Education doesn’t occur solely in schools, learning happens across infinite contexts and spaces, and Bright understands this by including a variety of voices. This makes for a wonderful conversation of diverse opinions and ideas.

I have a simple request. When running stories or features about the education within schools, or school systems, don’t forget those who live within them. Don’t forget the teachers, the students, the staff, and the administrators who work on the ground each day. They are the experts, the professionals, and the leaders. They get it.

Everyone has an opinion about school because almost everyone attended school. Everyone has their education solution. Everyone is an education expert. While it is enticing, and sometimes illuminating, to hear from in vogue tech founders, politicians, and celebrities, the best spokespeople are the one’s intimately tied to schools. Too often so-called experts create laws, technology, foundations, and ideas that impose a false expertise on the everyday actors in schools — teachers and students. Their voice is elevated above those with the real expertise. The consequences of this aren’t usually great.

We often forget that teachers are extremely qualified individuals with a wealth of education and experience. We neglect to acknowledge that teachers often have multiple degrees paired with years in the classroom. We ignore the voices who sit in our nation’s classrooms. We scoff at the idea the students have a voice. We can’t imagine hearing from those whose work is invisible, custodians, maintenance, nurses, or counselors.

Your past experience makes me excited about the future of Bright. The idea of hearing from students about their lived experience in schools is phenomenal. I look forward to your experiments in storytelling, and your vision to run stories with meaning. Cheers to the next step for Bright. Just don’t forget about those everyday heroes that change the world one lesson, one step at a time.

P.S. — Shawn White and The Synapse are a wonderful example of teacher and student voice.

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