Re Lawrence Harmon’s June 9 op-ed “Talent, not time, marks a teacher”: Harmon’s offensive references to older teachers “whose best skill is hanging on” articulates one of many erroneous prejudices that animate teacher-bashers today. Many people assume that there are just two kinds of teachers: the young, dynamic, passionate ones, and the older, weary has-beens who are simply waiting it out till they can receive their monthly retirement checks.
I am an older teacher, as are many of the most successful and dynamic teachers in the E.W. Thurston Middle School in Westwood, where I work. We have plenty of young talent too, and many of our newer teachers hold the promise of becoming great.
Harmon’s stereotype ignores the reality that fresh-faced inexperience is not the solution to the problems in our schools. The first few years of teaching are especially hard, and many new teachers quit, not having learned how to manage their classrooms or the stress of the job. Even those who have what it takes must work at their craft for years before reaching their peak.
There is a lot to be said for experience.