No True Scotswoman

A kindergarten teacher wrote a thing.

There are a couple of ways of reading the thing she wrote.

A. She’s a new teacher*, trying to make the best of a situation.
B. She’s been bought off to so the website can claim a teacher byline.
C. She’s a disgrace to the profession. Get her away from children.
D. She believes what she wrote.

For reasons, a not small number of people wrote responses to her thing built around B or C. A small number went with A and then the C group used B as a reason why the author of A pieces rose to her defense. In their responses, busy professionals, many of them teachers, took time out their day to write things to call her “a reformster”, “a child abuser”, and “not a real teacher.” She’s “stupid.” She ruined someone’s day. It must be satire as no one could be that …. that… so NOT a teacher.

I’m thinking D. She appears young. So incredibly, delightfully young. She’s likely grown up in the world of NCLB. Testing has likely been a part of her world since at least middle school. Despite that, she became a teacher. And then she wrote a thing. And people in her profession appear to be, I dare say, gleefully joining a tribe of pointing and scolding – You’re not a real teacher. You should have known better. 

She didn’t.  She found a way through and then she wrote a thing. And members of her profession are condemning her for it. There are no questions to her in the comments section. There are no statements of empathy, no inquiries into what else happens in her classroom. There is some professional empathy (hey kid, let’s have coffee and talk or it’s not her fault) but it’s framed around how very wrong she is.

20% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years. If, in 5 years, we find that Bailey is among that group, anyone want to take a guess on what she’ll say in her exit interview?

PostScript: I completely and totally get where the concerns come from. No doubt. My grrfuffle isn’t about the content of her post or the legitimacy of a response. It’s that when she googles her name, posts *about* her will come up. It’s that her profession turned against her and used the fallacy of “No True Scots[woman]” to do it. That irks me.

*Peter Greene (who commented below) researched Bailey via LinkedIn and has concluded she’s only passing through a classroom on her way to something else. There’s a lot to unpack there about many things. Perhaps another time. Meanwhile, I’m going to link to the fallacy again and have an extra glass of wine with dinner.

6 thoughts on “No True Scotswoman”

  1. My reply to the author that the gatekeeper sign in of that site won’t let me sign in.

    It is disappointing to read the caustic comments to your blog. Your descriptions of “testing” in your classroom are the behaviors any experienced teacher uses in any class K-12. Your continual assessment of student progress shows responsibility for student learning. Having students begin to take ownership for their learning is sorely missed in all grades. I would suggest to think about the flower wall and its potential impact on students confidence who are not climbing the wall as quickly as their peers. Maybe have a class wide flower that grows when all reach a benchmark.
    In regards to the comments, I’m embarrassed that professionals would treat another colleague this way. Disagreeing is healthy, but making personal attacks of a person’s education and implying they should leave the profession is harrassment. The behavior displayed in many of the comments would not be tolerated in my district. Bailey, keep having high expectations for your students, and fight against the culture of low expectations. Good Luck

  2. C & D. She’s not actually a teacher– she’s put in a couple of years with TFA, is now logging some hours with TeachPlus, and per her own LInkedIn page intends to move on to management and leadership positions. She’s just passing through, and clearly never learned anything applicable about the child development. She may mean well, but her essay is chilling.

    I don’t think she’s stupid, but I do think she’s clueless about what she’s doing, and the fact that she doesn’t intend to have a teaching career is an appropriate choice. What she describes is educational malpractice, and all the good intentions in the world don’t change that.

  3. Peter – your response (a word which amusingly enough now looks like gibberish to me) made me realize that the best answer is likely E: Her motivation is irrelevant.

    What matters, I suspect, isn’t why she did what she did but rather, how the field responded to her. What’s gained by going after her personally? There are always going to be educators (be they passing through or firmly entrenched) posting things that other educators disagree with. Is the goal to chase the speakers out of town and into hiding? Is that the goal of writing posts that go after the “clueless” teacher?

  4. I did not attack her personally. I know, particularly given the many commenters who actually did, that it may seem as if I did, but I did not suggest that she’s a horrible person or a terrible human being.

    I did attack her professionally, and I’ll own that. I consider her picture of how to approach a kindergarten classroom shocking, and I consider it a violation of the trust that parents of a small child put in a school and teacher, and I consider it emblematic of the kind of amateurism that has leaked into classrooms (is there the slightest shred of evidence that her “techniques” are beneficial).

    I couldn’t be much more shocked if someone wrote a piece about “the different educational techniques needed to teach members of the intellectually inferior black race” or “why girls shouldn’t take advanced academic classes.” That’s how shockingly wrong I think she is.

    And she and the website put herself out there as an exemplar, as “proof” of how awesome testing kindergartners can be. I have no intention, desire, or power to “chase her out of town,” but when you see something really, really wrong, you have an impulse to say so. Having seen her piece, I couldn’t ignore it.

  5. I get the distinction you’re making, between her the person and her professionally. Totally get it.

    This line from your post, though, jumped out at me. “Is she done saying stupid things?”

    How should the recipient of that line receive it? Is it about her professionally or her personally? More to the point, what’s the purpose of words like that?

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