The world has lost a giant intellect with the death of Professor Hans Rosling, the statistician who breathed life into data and gave humanity an enormous gift. His entertaining and optimistic approach to data analysis is inspirational. His teaching methods will live on in every person who had the good fortune to hear him speak, and while I am saddened by the loss of such a kind and generous teacher, there is an upside. All we have to do is accept that his work is not finished and endeavor together to continue it. Students of all ages are clamoring for teachers with Professor Rosling’s ability and willingness to facilitate learning. There are many such teachers in our schools who are eager for partnerships with industries that rely on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). What are we waiting for?
One thing that must be understood is the notion that, “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach” is utter nonsense. I offer instead the counter, “Those who teach empower others to discover they, too, can do.”
Teachers in many schools feel hamstrung by the very system that is supposed to support student growth and achievement. Budget constraints and ineffective administrators often work in tandem to squelch the enthusiasm of new teachers who either hang in there, hoping it will get better or give up in frustration. Teachers begin their careers with the knowledge that society does not view them as professionals. The pay scale proves it. The lack of parental involvement in scholastic performance proves it. The fact that some believe our teachers must be armed with weapons, rather than the proper tools to do their job also proves it.
Optimism for the future rests in the hands of teachers. Modeling behaviors such as respect, attention to detail, curiosity, and compassion, often falls solely on teachers, because of a lack of engagement at home where inappropriate behavior is sometimes cultivated or ignored. Behavior cannot be ignored in a public classroom any more than it can be ignored in society. Teachers cannot merely take to social media or the streets to remedy problems they encounter daily in the classroom. Clear, measurable objectives proven by goal-driven evidence are only part of the success story. Teachers must be supported, empowered, and compensated in order for us to arrive at a solution with which we can not only live but thrive.
Thanks, Professor Rosling, for your knowledge, humility, and humor. You will be missed, but hopefully your message will not be lost on us.