Monday, January 22, 2007

Too much information?

All thing considered ran an interview with Rafe Esquith, a fifth grade teacher in an LA public school. He was talking about his book Teach like your hair is on fire. The title sounded great (hmm, should it be "don't judge the book by its cover, nor its title"?), so I thought I'd google it. First clicked link was a review from Teacher magazine. I got little taken aback by the second sentence in the article:

“I’m only here,” Esquith announces at the outset, “to share some of the ideas I have found useful.” But most of the things he shares aren’t all that useful and barely qualify as ideas.

The rest follows similar pattern. I have to admit that most of the time I don't doubt NPR much, so this came as a surprise. I decided to look some more. Next was a blog entry , and I list it only because it pointed me to Washington Post's article America's best classroom teacher ?! Its first sentence could not be further from the above quote:

Rafe Esquith is the most interesting and influential classroom teacher in the country, but he is not getting nearly as much glory as he deserves.

I read Washington Post regularly. Along with NPR and BBC, it's one of my favorite news sources. I expect more from them than just stating that somebody is the most interesting and influential classroom teacher in the country. What is the criterion for "interesting teacher"? Or "influential"? Have they visited every single classroom in the country? How many people have participated in determining that he should get the title?

I suppose after seeing such opposite opinions there is no other option but to read the book myself, and make my own judgment. I was going to say that I'd prefer my news to be less grandiose and more specific, but after paying little more attention to where this article appeared, I realize that it was written in a weekly education column Class struggle, so I guess there is no reason to complain.

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