Teachers v. Doctors

I want my teachers to be like doctors and the students like patients. Each student has specific needs and specific treatment plans. They may be all in the same wing of the metaphoric hospital, pediatrics, mathematics, ophthalmology, social studies, and so forth. But, their treatment plan is individualized. Teachers may use similar tools from one student to the next. They may see different progressions and outcomes. All students have the goal of becoming healthy. That definition – that learning outcome – is a continual collaboration between teacher and student, patient and doctor. 

When we go to the doctor and complain of a pain in the side – the teacher must take the time to diagnose the symptoms and understand the root cause of the pain; the student didn’t understand fractions in third grade and now in seventh they can’t complete the algebra problem presented because they don’t understand how to find the common denominator. The student doesn’t understand word problems because they are skipping ahead to the outcome and instead need to understand the problem from a perspective applied by Bloom’s taxonomy – identifying the facts of the problem first. 

Teachers and doctors are often compared; the snarky comment that teachers often ask is – how would a doctor feel if they had 30 patients all at the same time, for only an hour window, each needing a diagnosis and treatment plan, individual attention to existing issues, anticipation of future problems, and an expectation that every patient reaches a full recovery? How would a doctor feel if they had to do that five to eight times a day? How would they feel if they had resources removed and administrative oversight asking for testing that they did not need or results when the student wasn’t ready to demonstrate their understanding and mastery? 

I still want my teachers to be like doctors giving less panacea and more individualized treatment. The question is how can the administration support this perspective.

Author: David Orace Kelly

International Teacher - Arts and Education Leader

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