This evening I attended a panel hosted by the Colby Club “Students For Education Reform” on Teach For America. The series of events that led up to my attendance was both somewhat convoluted and yet supposedly not too out of the ordinary.
I have always found the thought of teaching to be exciting. I love interacting with people, talking about the books I’m reading, or now with technology (it’s the future) podcasts and sharing exciting and interesting information. Over the years I have seen a few kids go into Teach For America, and everytime I hear they have chosen to do so, I think about how great it would be to do something impactful – teaching kids who may not have had the same opportunities I was lucky enough to be given.
Of course, at this juncture, every criticism of TFA can and will be launched. I am young, have not taught, am not an education major, and perhaps my neo-liberal outlook is an unacceptable forcing of some agenda or other. And perhaps these criticisms are fair, but over the past few weeks, I have had a chance to really learn about the program and to be honest, at the very least, there are passionate people who have seen a problem and are doing their very best with the data they have to solve the broken education system in our own backyard.
The panel this evening consisted of one former TFA teacher and current TFA employee, one former TFA student and future TFA teacher, and the girl who runs Students for Education Reform. There were some critical questions that dealt with the issues I just brought up above and the answers were well-rounded and of course stressed what TFA is and what TFA isn’t.
I personally can say that after hearing the questions, which concerned budgets, lack of experience, teacher turnover and the like that I will still be applying. With a big mission to improve education, TFA’s goal seems to be to make people interested in improving the lives of children and lifelong education, and that includes both lifelong teachers and yet many more people outside the classroom in policy, healthcare, nutrition and resources that also create a student education beyond just sitting in a class. There will always be critiques, but as perhaps a lone blogger voice, it appears TFA is aimed in the right direction.