Three of us spent four hours yesterday trying to adjust a basketball hoop to 10 feet. It wouldn’t go past 9. No problem before b/c it was for a 6 y.o. girl, but now we have 14 y.o. guys on league teams wanting to come down and practice. Among the three of us were four college degrees. To no avail.

So today my yard man came over and, in addition to putting the Christmas lights on the second storey, he looked at the hoop and with a little jiggling and checking here and there had it up to ten feet in about ten minutes. He has solved various problems for us in this same manner numerous times. In addition, his knowledge of plants, soil, weather, and so forth are remarkable.

The question is………..

How is it that the guys with the 2 foot by 2 foot gold-plated business cards show up late, do a lousy job, and then disappear when it comes time to make good on their contract do so well in this society while guys like my highly competent yard man do so poorly? One explanation is that he is immoral in some as yet unknown way, otherwise he would be financially successful. Another explanation is that he doesn’t know how to market himself. The latter makes more sense to me.

Can we lend this argument to teachers? Can we market ourselves better? One block to that that I see is that many teachers thrive in a climate of self-denial and self-abnegations, holdovers from a time when teachers were young girls just waiting to get married or nuns. All that was expected of them was humility.

But now that teachers must be expert in learning psychology, child development, plus their discipline if they teach above the elementary level, it would seem we can take on the mantel of the “school master”, a stern figure who must be obeyed. The school master carried some weight in the community, if I understand the situation correctly. He ran a school that had clear goals for putting competent young people into the society where they were to take their place as determined by their social class. Not just knowledge but behavior were the goals and the school master was charged with achieving them. No small concern even if the majorityof school children were groomed for factory or farm jobs.

But times have changed. Have we?

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