Teachers Share 'Lament' About the Next Thing

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Schoolbook contributor Arthur Goldstein struck a chord with fellow teachers with his tongue-in-cheek commentary about the annual unveiling of the next new classroom innovation.

Not just New York teachers, but teachers from around the country, echoed Goldstein’s frustration in comments posted to his Viewpoint article, “A Teacher’s Lament: The Next Big Thing.”

“This is priceless,” wrote teacher Wendy Beck. “It’s as true in New York as it is in San Francisco, both places I’ve taught.”

Goldstein, an E.S.L. teacher and United Federation of Teachers chapter leader at Francis Lewis High School in Queens. recounted how “the Thing” is presented to teachers.

"We have this Thing. You must do this Thing. This is the only Thing that works. We will observe you and pay very close attention to whether or not you do it, because you can’t possibly teach unless you do it every single day without exception. But don’t worry, because it’s the best. After we tell you about it, you’ll break into groups, try it, and report back to us."

He argued that teachers should have a say in deciding what works best for them in the classroom, another sentiment shared by readers.

“After more than forty years teaching in MD and, I had to laugh when I read this. It is so true and the county that I was in seemed bent on "Out-Thinging" everyone in the country.” posted Deborah Kerr. “There is nothing new under the sun really in how teaching and learning takes place... but there is always a new way for people to try to make money and justify their positions. And people wonder why Faculty Meeting Bingo was started!!!!”

Mary Rock, a teacher in Florida, added: “Lord help us all. I love teaching, I wish the powers that be would just trust us to be the professionals we are. After 28 years experience I'm very sure I know what to do. We don't need another new THING this year. Thank you.”

Kathy Moran, a teacher for 36 years, wrote in her comment that she has seen "every fad, trend, innovation, NEW THING come and then, mysteriously, quietly, without any fanfare, just...disappear somewhere between June and September." She thanked Goldstein for airing his frustrations "because we all know we are not alone in our loss of patience, eye-rolling, and scorn!"

At least one reader, John Elfrank-Dana, suggested Goldstein expand on the column. "Too bad Doctor Seuss isn't still alive. I could just see a book about the New Thing!"

What do you think about schools introducing the next big Thing? Add your comments and join the conversation.