Selflessness Is at the Core of the Best Teaching

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sarah Fine suggested in her Aug. 9 Outlook commentary, "Schools Need Teachers Like Me. I Just Can't Stay," that many members of her generation, the so-called millennials, shun teaching because not enough prestige and recognition are associated with the job. She's probably right. But no amount of praise showered on teachers will ever produce the kind of dramatic results we need to close the achievement gap -- because, at its core, teaching is never about the teacher.

Teaching requires an intrinsic desire to serve in the interest of students and their families. As one of the new co-principals of the very school that Ms. Fine left in June, I am proud to note that the Chavez Schools aim to teach students the value of service to their communities and their nation. An important lesson that we will teach our students is that the best service is done without regard to reward or remuneration, perquisites that have historically accompanied careers in medicine, law and business. Indeed, at this moment in our history, it seems appropriate to note that reforming our dysfunctional public education, health care, and financial sectors will probably be accomplished by citizens more interested in serving others than in garnering praise for themselves.

JOAQUIN R. TAMAYO JR.

Co-Principal

Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools

for Public Policy

Washington


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