The Influence of Teachers: Reflections on Teaching and Leadership
A compilation of interviews, op-eds, blog posts, and stories drawn from journalist/educator John Merrow’s own experience, this self-published book frames the debate around teacher quality in a spunky, fun-to-read way. Writing in a style that blends journalism with story-telling, Merrow deploys his material to discuss tenure, charter schooling, the leadership shortage, and more. At its core, the book tackles two big questions: “Are mediocre teachers the heart of education’s problems? Or is it the job itself, with its low pay and even lower prestige?” He skillfully walks the reader through each facet of this slippery topic. After what seems to be much internal strife, Merrow settles the debate (for himself, anyway) in the book’s final chapter. To him, it is the job that is the problem; teaching must be professionalized. To that end, he recommends five tactics to making teaching a “better job,” including: Have teacher evaluations of students count at least as much as one-time standardized test scores; give principals autonomy to hire their staffs; and recognize that the job of teaching is to help young people learn the skills needed to inquire, not regurgitate answers. Whether you agree with Merrow’s conclusions or not, he provides an enjoyable, highly readable text, and a useful framing of an ever-important debate.
|Click to listen to an interview between Mike Petrilli and author John Merrow from the Education Next Book Club podcast
John Merrow, The Influence of Teachers: Reflections on Teaching and Leadership, (New York, NY: LM Books, A Division of Learning Matters, Inc., 2011).
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