I, rarely, watch movies about teachers – mainly because it drives my husband nuts when I yell at the screen because a teacher has pulled a karate move with inner city students, has placed chains on doors to lock out crime, or is connected to Superman somehow. Television shows, however, are fair game. In my early teaching career, I used to love watching Boston Public for inspiration. Further into my career, however, I’ve found that Glee gets it the most “right.” Teaching is absurd most days.
For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself obsessed with two, new, Friday night reality television shows. One is called Teach, starring Tony Danza and the other is School Pride, starring, well, a group of B-list celebrities. It seems that, since education reform is all the rage, teachers have been given a few reality shows. R e a l i t y? In actual school settings? Broadcast for the entire world to see?
At first, I was skeptical (OK, still am) and watched the shows while screaming at the television. Tony Danza is charming, but he’s not exactly teaching material and the conditions of his teaching assignment are a bit contrived. Similarly, The School Pride crew swoops in to save the day each week by renovating schools that are on the brink of closure due to less-than-desirable building conditions (think “move that bus” here). The intentions are good, but I’ve seen Teach for America and Microsoft featured more times than my edu-palate cares for.
I could pick apart both shows, as could any person lucky enough to have a television show dedicated to represent their profession . . . however. . . I choose not to.
Because something is wrong in education these days. Students are being negatively impacted by numerous factors – including the need to “reform.” The intent behind this blog is to alert educators to the fact that these reality shows exist – and to implore anyone who cares about education to watch, analyze, and be part of the much-needed conversations about education.
Despite the flaws in each of these shows, the faces and stories of the students make watching worth it.