My sister–a smart and talented pediatric nurse–shared an article with me recently about how doctors choose to end their lives. The message, repeated many times elsewhere, is that the people who most understand the medical options available to terminal patients choose to die without major intervention.
The author, a physician and professor of medicine, summarized his end-of-life choices this way:
“They were easy to make, as they are for most physicians. There will be no heroics, and I will go gentle into that good night.”
I find this strangely comforting. I imagine the decisions made by experts represent the decisions to which we should all aspire. The messy, frustrating, and sad battle for the last moments of life so often tarnishes the beauty and serenity of life. I appreciate that my own mother passed quietly without pain.
But, the next thought that comes to my mind is this: What is the educational analog of this lesson? If we ask teachers how they would want to learn, what will they say?
- Will they choose the standard public school setting loaded with students and devoid of student-centered learning?
- Will they opt for the homogenous elitism of private schools?
- Will they choose to strike out into innovative charter school environments?
- Will teachers with a choice for themselves opt to learn at home?
More importantly, as teachers, would we choose to be students in our own schools and classrooms?
I suspect that many teachers–experts in a different kind of brain surgery–would choose the latter. With all of the choices available, and all of the challenges that face modern students, we still trust ourselves more than anyone else.
So, while medical experts in dire circumstances choose not to make use of their most advanced tools, educators would likely choose to take advantage of the very best of our profession… the warriors in our public schools.
What would you choose?