What if Socrates Taught High School?


Thought experiment.

Let’s say we reincarnated (or cloned) Socrates, brought him in to teach at an American high school.

Socrates shows up to class, sipping coffee, doesn’t know how to use the copy machine or the powerpoint, so just strikes up a conversation with his students. Learns about their 21st century world. Asks them questions to help them think more critically about their surroundings. Provokes insights, new ways of approaching modern issues. Students leave class each day inspired, curious, and excited for the next day’s conversation.

Let’s say an administrator shows up one day to evaluate Mr. Socrates. How would he be scored?

Inefficient use of instructional minutes. Classroom procedures need more structure. Objective not clearly stated or understood by students. Assessment methods are entirely absent.

After a year or two, drilled by technical professional development, Socrates finally learns how to teach effectively. He spends his summers writing out curriculum maps for the year, with specific learning objectives for each day. During the year he’s up late every night planning out his lessons minute by minute. He’s staying home all day Saturday grading his students’ writing assignments with a rubric, and entering grades in the grade book.

His evaluations have been stellar, but Socrates is burnt out. He’s always daydreaming about freeing himself from the grind of teaching.

Eventually he says, welp, I love education and stuff, but there’s really more to life than this. I’ve had enough.

His principal understands, is proud of his commitment to trying out the profession. He really did improve. Don’t worry, he will get a good reference when he applies for his next job.

Not everyone is cut out for the teaching life.

Author: Billy

High school teacher and blogger.

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