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The Age of Impatience

by Howard Good

It seems to me–granted, I’m a cranky person–that we often look in the wrong places for the right things. Want to raise student achievement? Put computers in the classroom. Want to make schools more accountable? Mandate high-stakes testing. Want to improve teaching? Abolish tenure, or increase teacher salaries, or both. No matter how big the problem, we act as if there were a quick answer for it.

But I wonder, would the great sages of old have been even greater if they could have followed the trends or used the tools of modern education? Would Socrates’ dialogues, for example, have been any more effective if he had been able to jazz them up with PowerPoint slides? Or would Hillel, the most revered teacher in Jewish tradition, have been more conscientious if his students had been required to take annual standards-based tests?

Personally, I don’t think so. The stories and legends that have come down to us about the sages emphasize the importance of integrity, patience, and love of learning in being a good teacher. There is nothing in the stories about technology, or testing, or any of the other solutions on which we put so much emphasis

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