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Latosha Bacon 1 Big Ideas and the Big Picture Summary

The Influence of Teachers: Reflections of Teaching and Leadership John Merrow John Merrow offers an insightful look into public education. He addresses issues of teacher influence, the programs that prepare teachers, teacher evaluation, and who is ultimately responsible for the education our children receive. Merrow does not merely scratch the surface of what is going in Americas education system. Instead he delves deeply into hidden areas that most people either dont care or wish to discuss. He begins the book with a transparent view into his own short time as an English teacher, moves into his career as a professor, and shares his vies as an observer. Merrow (2011) believes that All teacher education programs should be accountable for and their accreditation contingent upon how well they address the needs of schools and help improve P-12 student learning (p. 36). He includes information from reports that call for institutions that do the training of teachers to be accountable for how well the students of their graduates perform. While this may not be well accepted by colleges and universities, it is something to consider when trying to get to the root of the problem with student achievement. Merrow tackles the tough issues like Intellectual safety freedom to make mistakes and raise questions- allows real teaching and real learning to happen (p. 44). He explains how important it is for students to feel safe in order to take the risk of being wrong in class. Snickering classmates and

Latosha Bacon 2 Big Ideas and the Big Picture Summary

passive teachers do not foster this environment. He also addresses the flip side of intellectual safety that parents contribute to-intellectual danger. This is the result of parents placing pressure on their students to get it right and earn honors. He builds a bridge for fostering conducive learning environments at home and at school. According to Merrow, If teaching could become not merely an honorable calling but also a well paid, well respected profession thats difficult to get into (p. 37). In his book, he reminds the reader that teachers deserve far more than what they are getting. Speaking frankly about teacher qualifications and fast-paced Teach for America type programs, he makes it relevant to the level of respect and pay that teachers receive. He offers insight on the ease of admission into teacher education programs and the comparison to spending five weeks in training to become a nurse. However, he is certain that the roots of mediocrity and incompetence can be found at many institutions that train teachers (p. 83) The result of such is ill-prepared, lack luster teachers. Merrow believes the solution is more teachers and bettertrained teachers (p.79). Merrow believes that Teachers are uniquely positioned, as I learned at the reunion to make a lasting impression on hundreds of children (p. 23) He has a real idea of the power that teachers possess and expect them to exercise those powers to educate Americas youth. Merrow perceives that if

Latosha Bacon 3 Big Ideas and the Big Picture Summary

teachers were aware of this super power and equipped to make the change, education would be in a better place. Merrow states, Over the years I have noticed that the best schools and the best teachers ask of every child, How are you intelligent, and not How intelligent are you? That small change makes all the difference (p. 12). Merrow explains that in most of todays educational settings students are being forced to show their intelligence inside a box. Students are only given small windows of opportunity to show how intelligent they are within certain boundaries using measurable criteria. Rather than giving students the opportunity to express their intellect rather than exercise the intelligence they possess. John Merrow contends that The recipe for success includes some mix of strong leadership, committed teachers, an integrated curriculum, the willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and accepted practices, and the moral imperative to care for an about all of our children (p.154.) Merrow offers advice that he believes will make American education a better place to teach and learn. While there is no magic potion for improving education, John Merrows ideas and suggestions are based on practice, research, and for the sake of making a difference, worth trying.