Associate Professor, California State University Bakersfield
(This is an unpublished editorial in response the 2013 NCTQ report finding most teacher preparation programs in the US are not of adequate quality.)
Imagine that, while on a summer evening walk, you find a plain ring lying in tall grass. You soon discover in trying it on that while it brings you neither beauty nor wealth, it holds an even greater value. Whoever wears the ring will immediately become invisible. With little chance of punishment for misdeeds, and with a thousand inner voices of want and conflict calling to you, how would you behave if your actions—no matter how extreme or self-centered--could be carried out in secrecy, with little cost to you or your reputation? Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous among us that wear the ring.
This short parable, known as the Ring of Gyges, was first told by the Ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates over 2500 years ago. It is a classic test of whether humans will do what is morally right minus the consequences of having others’ eyes, judgments and penalties affect their conduct.
In all likelihood, I suspect, you were raised with a fundamental set of certain values, a part inside you that deeply respects traveling the right path from the wrong. If you believe this, who you are does not waiver. Your choice is clear, not only for yourself, but for the greater social good, as well.
Invisibility from the consequences of our actions, unfortunately, is not only the stuff of books, movies video games and myths. The social and moral elements presented in the tale of Gyges still are very much in play today. They are skillfully and manipulatively employed by those who reside on the murky and powerful side of the wide social divide that increasingly separates us from not only from the ones who so often decide our fate, but us from the dreams we once held for our kids and for ourselves. The new holders of the power of Gyges are not concocting a plot, not part of a conspiracy, and do not represent the devil’s work. Rather, their place among us is to manufacture a vision of truth—or untruth, if you will-- created and advanced by persons and groups seeking political and personal gain. Fear not; the new power brokers too will fall victim to some coming wave of enterprising and well-connected Mad Max marauders now in training for who knows what, and more behind them, all seeking to feed off what is left of the middle class. Troublingly, it is the spinners of new truths who have anointed themselves the Salvationists now needed to reinvent the American schools of the future.
Self-righteous in their cause, they labor as the invisible architects of a manufactured educational crisis, far less dire than the constant stream of official failure data would imply. No one will dispute all is not well in American schools, or in its schools of education. It is no surprise these days, that almost anywhere in society you may wish to shine your light, you will find trouble. Still we should not be buying our vision of the future from those who now, not to mention going forward, stand to benefit substantial monetary gain in inventing a wholly new American educational system. Careful, thoughtful adjustment to what is in place should do just fine, thank you.
Earlier this week, a newly minted version of the newest educational untruth arrived in town. Beautifully designed and e-delivered as a lightning-fast pdf , accompanied by a media blitz we are unlikely to see again until Kate Middleton delivers her own newsworthy event this summer, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) served notice to the country’s colleges that we have failed, failed, failed to provide quality teachers to this nation’s children. More a drive-by shooting than a thoughtful discussion of real issues, the report took great exception to how California licenses