I will post the three major parts of my own argument as I write them. Below is the first part of my own written argument based on the book How to Build a Better Teacher. This follows the 4-part rhetorical precis handout I distributed in structured tutorial last Thursday. If you have comments or questions based on this model, I urge you to leave them in the comments section where we can work to clarify your understanding:
Teaching is one of the oldest professions. Despite public schools arising in the 19th Century, teaching has taken place in many other contexts dating back to ancient history. In our more narrow and contemporary understanding, a teacher is associated with a classroom, desks in rows, and stacks of papers to correct. This notion of a teacher is what Elizabeth Green intends to analyze in her book, Building a Better Teacher. In it, Green challenges the notion that teachers are born to teach–that they automatically have it. Instead, she counters this view using three primary sources of evidence: laboratory schools located in Michigan; the Japanese school system and its approach to teacher training; and certain aspects of the charter school movement, including Teach for America. In the three major sections of her book, Green intends to inform her audience that teachers are not born–they are made. She supports her claim that great teachers can be developed by allowing them to study their profession, collaborate with other teachers, and to test and refine methods until the best possible approach to teaching is found. She uses Deborah Ball, Madaglene Lampert, Doug Lemov, and others to demonstrate that when teachers are given time to observe others and continuously reflect and refine teaching strategies, we will see our collective achievement rise and our schools become the institutions of hope we imagine them to be. Based on these examples, Green intends to urge her readers to accept the notion that investment in teacher training, not just teacher evaluation, is the best means for bringing America’s schools up to par with their international competitors in places like Japan, Singapore, and the Nordic countries. All of these nations follow a model that differs from the American model, and as a result, routinely outperform our own students. Although the evidence is clear and her message well-intentioned, at the book’s end, after considering what we can do right now to make teachers and schools better, she laments the widespread misunderstanding and unwillingness to invest the time and money into programs that have proven to work. Green implicates No Child Left Behind, value added evaluation systems, and a purely data driven approach to measuring teacher effectiveness as flawed. She moves to suggest we modify our view to place emphasis on building our teachers based on evaluations, not punishing them based on a narrow look at an arbitrary list of traits. Despite the current flaws, In her final chapter, A Profession of Hope, Green still believes that there are islands of excellence within our school system, and implies that we can scale those islands into a continental model, which will educate our students to be globally competitive.