News and Tribune


September 30, 2013

CUMMINS: The future lies in what teachers do


The future depends to a great extent on what we teach children and how it is taught. In 1580, Montaigne, the father of the essay, wrote a long treatise, “The Education of Children.” He said that nature takes care of animals as bees innately know how to make honey and birds know how to make nests, but humans have to be taught how survive. He said, “Teach one to know himself and how to live and die well.” We’ve progressed to memorizing what a participle is and then regurgitating it on tests. Perhaps if individuals learned how to live well, test scores would soar.

What it boils down to is that schools are more important than politics, missiles and the Internet. Break it down further, and the spotlight shines on the teacher. Even in the Old Testament days, Isaiah said, “Yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers.”

Not intending to put more pressure on teachers, they have enough. Getting through each school day is an accomplishment. But the schools are failing, aren’t they? Yes and no. Kids in many high schools study what college students did just a few years ago. But only about 70 percent of students make it through high school, which is the schools’ fault. Show me the test results, that is, if the computer doesn’t break down. Since teachers only work about five hours per day, and test scores are so low, why not have them work overtime?

Blessed are the teachers, whose hearts break every day. Try teaching a hungry child living in poverty, only about 17 million of them, but your job depends on their test scores. Why does the richest nation on earth allow poverty to grow, now only four of 10? Did you know the House passed a bill to reduce food stamps by $700 billion over the next 10 years? Get a job, please. For those who own boots, let them pull up their bootstraps like I did. And if Obamacare can be repealed, it will free us to focus on higher test scores, which prepare us to live well.

Contact Terry Cummins at

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