One day I was mopping the floor and a family member advised me to open a counseling business in my home as a tax write-off. I said I had no desire to set up a counseling business. Oh, it’s easy, he said. No, it’s not easy to run a counseling business; it involves all sorts of licensing and connections and back-ups and so forth. No, no, he replied, it’s what you were doing last night with X (a cousin), just telling her what she can do to better her situation. No, I said, that wasn’t professional counseling, that was giving advice, no charge b/c it’s not worth much more than the advice your uncle gives you at Thanksgiving Dinner “You ought to move to Detroit, boy, that’s where you can really get ahead.” Yeah, I’ll just pack my bags and go.
It dawned on me what a perfect example that was of how the public views counseling and teaching: counseling is kindly advice-giving and teaching is babysitting children who need to be told how to spell and figure. That’s why I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the non-certified teaching force in Kansas; I mean, we have enough professional teachers who yell at the kids, “I already showed you how to do that!” Now we need Mo and Curly to come in and tell stories about the good old days in the plastics business. I don’t know how many times during my year of subbing I had kids tell me about why they didn’t cover the material with the last sub but did learn a lot about fishing excursions in Alaska. As a teacher, I recall the sub who simply didn’t like the movie I had scheduled as part of a carefully crafted sequence and just grabbed a promo video that happened to be sitting there: interesting and worthwhile, but not much in preparing them to take the exam the next day.
That’s the way the public sees us: after all, how hard can it be, they’re just kids. When we forced our way into the highly touted daycare center we had our children in back in the early 70s, we sat down with one of the “certified teachers” we were paying for and discovered she was a high school girl. She explained it was OK b/c she just taught them the names of the states. And it was a powerful lesson for all us parents and me in particular b/c it gave me insight into how easy it is to hoodwink the public b/c everyone in our circle was so impressed with my son’s ability to rattle off the counties of AZ. To what end? Who cares. They didn’t know the counties and he did so the school must be doing a great job. Huh? When I see these charter schools with their bow-tied chanting children, it reminds me of Candy Cane School.

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