Shared responsibility: a concept school reformers choose to ignore

The best orthopedic surgeon in the country performs a knee replacement, but the patient fails to complete his prescribed physical therapy and the knee doesn’t heal properly.  Is the bum knee the surgeon’s fault?

A master violinist gives a pupil violin lessons, but the pupil refuses to practice and does not care to learn how to play the violin. Is the pupil’s failure to excel at the instrument the master violinist’s fault?

An expert carpenter builds a beautiful deck, but its owners neglect to seal it regularly and take care of it. Is the run-down deck that results the expert carpenter’s fault?

A skilled dentist cleans a person’s teeth, but the person refuses to brush and floss. Are the person’s dirty teeth the dentist’s fault?

A top-rated cleaning company cleans a person’s house from top to bottom, but the homeowner continues to leave trash everywhere. Is the dirty house the cleaning company’s fault?

A respected dog trainer teaches a dog proper behavior, but the dog’s owners do not reinforce the trainer’s methods at home. Is the dog’s misbehavior the trainer’s fault?

An accomplished architect drafts plans for the perfect house, but a contractor doesn’t follow the plans. Is the poor construction of the house the architect’s fault?

An exclusive art supply store sells a customer the very best art supplies available, but the customer paints a hideous picture with those supplies.  Is the ugly art the art supply store’s fault?

A highly-trained psychologist suggests behavior-modification techniques to a patient struggling with an anxiety disorder, but the patient is unwilling to try and refuses to apply these techniques.  Is the patient’s continued anxiety the psychologist’s fault?

A lawn service lays beautiful sod on a client’s property, but the homeowner fails to fertilize and water the sod.  Is the dead grass the lawn service’s fault?

A wise financial adviser makes investment and savings recommendations to a client who has come into money, but the client ignores the recommendations and spends irresponsibly.  Is the client’s loss of finances the financial adviser’s fault?

A local farmer’s market vendor sells a customer freshly-picked vegetables, but the customer leaves those vegetables in a hot car.  Is the disgusting dinner the customer makes with those vegetables the vendor’s fault?

A professional football player runs a children’s football camp in the summer, but none of the children make it to the NFL.  Is this the kids’ “failure” the professional football player’s fault?

Most people would answer these questions with an emphatic “no!”  So why is it that teachers are often the first–or only–ones to be blamed if students aren’t successful?  It’s obvious that a good teacher can make a huge impact on a student’s life and level of success, but it is ignorant to ignore all the factors beyond teachers’ control that affect student performance.

Because a master teacher teaches to the very best of her ability and makes a positive impact on so many of her students, but she has one child who is unwilling to learn.  Is his failure the master teacher’s fault?



July 16, 2013 · 9:58 pm

2 responses to “Shared responsibility: a concept school reformers choose to ignore

  1. tmgrocki

    Reblogged this on tmgrocki's blog and commented:
    Excellent food for thought!

  2. I don’t see how this is so hard for the public to understand.

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