My Curse of Knowledge for BFE-Podunk
I’ve had four teachers at my current, inner-city school compliment me on my intelligence at separate times. Each of the four immediately added that compulsory layer of “it won’t make you a good teacher.” This has been a source of frustration for me.
Mr. Bogush, for his part, also riffs on the hard-to-swallow theme of the four teachers in my department.
You have the “Curse of Knowledge” — you know so much that it is often impossible to realize what it was like to not know it. You are a thinker so initially it will be impossible for you to realize what it is like to be ignorant and naive. …
Unlike White Kids’ Unified, students have to come first at Podunk, Mr. Bogush said. Whether or not administrators demand it in Podunk doesn’t really matter — the situation already demands student-centric reflection.
At Podunk, you will have to reflect, reflect, reflect. Not about your curriculum, and not about your primary sources or images, but about your mindset and the students. Why do they think what they think? You are so smart that you will feel stupid. Day after day.
You will find that all the things in life you thought were important are not, and some of the things that you took for granted become precious. You will have to be a mom, dad, brother, sister, social worker, and thrift store operator first. Only then will you be able to teach. You will learn that the “smartness” that you have is worthless and you will have to figure out 100 other ways to a kids heart.
Don’t mind my interjection, but is smartness really worthless? I chalk this up to hyperbole. He continues:
Don’t let being too “smart” keep you away from Podunk — let it drive you there. You might hate it; you might dread every minute. However, it will make a “thinking teacher” stronger. You will learn skills and insights that you will never get from a book, from a person, or by working at the other school.
I had intended to reflect on his comment, but I couldn’t bring myself to add anything. Mr. Bogush sums it up his point of view, and I have no perspective to counter it.
No perspective, at least, that the teachers at my school would allow themselves to appreciate. As far as they’re concerned, smartness be damned: I’m a student teacher. I don’t have any business making judgment on high educational theory.
What is the role of smartness as a teacher? What is the role of reflection, at either White Kids’ Unified or BFE-Podunk Joint Unified, and is the role different between the two districts?