Sunday, November 07, 2010
Master Teacher or Masturbator?
I encountered this term for the first time on a posting for a comp time job. My friends and I all laughed about it and figured it was just another way for the administration to hand pick the person they wanted and void union regulations. We never even gave it much thought and applied or didn't apply based on whether we wanted the jobs or not. I don't recall anyone ever being turned down because they were not masters.
This week I had a discussion with an AP that I like and respect very much. As we were discussing a person that is very well known on this blog, she said, "Well, he is a master teacher." I couldn't believe my ears and asked for clarification. She then went on to say how he got 43 out of 47 kid to pass the Math A regents one term. She had this and nothing else to go on to give evidence to her conclusion.
A young teacher, not in my department, walks around the school telling everyone that he is a master teacher and as such, should not be subjected to teaching the lowest level kids in the building. They are giving him a very hard time. Unfortunately, this master teacher cannot teach without a Smart Board or a Power Point presentation.
I was always under the impression that a master teacher should:
1. Have total knowledge of every course offered in the department in which s/he works.
2. Be able to walk into any course and teach that class with ease.
3. Have the ability to make material crystal clear to everyone in the room.
4. Be engaging.
5. Have total control of the class
6. Be able to inject his/her love of the subject into everyone in the class.
According to dictionary.com:
1. command or grasp, as of a subject: a mastery of Italian.
2. superiority or victory: mastery over one's enemies.
3. the act of mastering.
4. expert skill or knowledge.
5. the state of being master; power of command or control.
Neither of these individuals possess these characteristics.
Today's data driven world has replaced mastery of subject areas with mastery of exams. My very bright calculus students do not know how to think because last year they were taught to memorize and regurgitate.
In all my years of school, I can think of one master teacher--Gerry Elgarten. I first met him in JHS 113 in the Bronx. He taught a slow algebra class that my best friend was in. He used to let me sit in on my lunch. I remember being mesmerized by the way he brought the subject to life and held the attention of 34 young teens who wanted to be anywhere but math. (He moved on from there, teaching in high school and college and eventually becoming a AP). There are no master teachers anymore only masturbators and it is time to stop giving these self fulling individuals so much credit.