There has always been a great deal of talk in education about serving every kind of person, but in particular those who have been under-represented in college. Despite all of this talk, the world of educators is increasingly diverging from the world of their students, especially the under-represented, which is leaving more and more students feeling abandoned and without hope.
In one world are the educators who ever-increasingly view education in economic terms – economic terms demonstrated by soaring costs of tuition and books as well as soaring costs for administration as well as construction of new buildings justified by educators for whom there never seems to have been enough money over the past 40 years.
The other significant discourse in education is educators’ depiction of students of today as woefully deficient and entirely to blame for their inadequacies, thus becoming nothing more than an intolerable burden – I know because I hear this from the educators who oftentimes brag of their ruination of students, and I hear from the students who are overwhelmed and feeling hopeless; yet I have worked with many of these students who have been deemed by other educators to be “losers” and “failures”, and they have gone on to be great successes – and that is the purpose and power of teaching – to transform lives for the better.
The worlds of educators and students are diverging because while educators have remained in their “ivory towers” for the past century, the world of their students has changed drastically. In the students’ world today there is marked deterioration into ever-increasing poverty due to a huge variety of reasons, a proliferation of socioeconomic ills, and a K-12 system that after 40 years has still not fixed its problems which has left most students increasingly ill-prepared for college and for life, and the response from educators is to blame the students for these failures that they, the educators, could never fix and demand that the students fix it on their own. Nowhere is this abdication of our role as educators more evident and profound than in the ever-increasing neglect of our students witnessed in a growing lack of positive, if any, contact with students.
It is not only an enormous disservice to great teachers to have people in education who view students as a burden to be rid of, but also extremely disheartening, for that is our task as educators, to reach out and touch the lives of our students, and it is not an impossible task as there are many great teachers who have been successful even where others have failed and under the most difficult of situations. Teaching is truly one of the most powerfully transformative professions – for teachers can not only give life back to their students, but also their futures, even futures once abandoned or unimagined. Surely great teachers are the George Baileys of the world who the Angel Clarence described as those whose lives touch so many others for the better that if they had never been, there would be a great hole in the many lives they would have touched.