Monday, February 26, 2024

Quote of the Day (Herbert Kohl, on 'Knowing and Caring About’ Students)

“Knowing and caring about your students is not merely an academic matter but is essential to shaping learning for them and a challenge to take them into your life and fight for survival and growth as if they were your own children...I believe that one key to making sustained changes is finding teachers who care about their students and are willing to become personally involved with their lives. The craft of teaching can develop; the love it requires cannot be legislated or trained.”— American progressive educator, author, and social activist Herbert Kohl, The Discipline of Hope: Learning from a Lifetime of Teaching (1988)

The image accompanying this post shows James Franciscus as the title character of the vintage series Mr. Novak—the type of passionate educator that Herbert Kohl has in mind in this quote.

This drama series began in the fall of 1963, and high school English teacher John Novak is just the kind of young idealist who would have been summoned to service by John F. Kennedy. The show’s brief run—only two seasons—hurt its chances for syndication.

Too bad. Even with network censors who scrutinized every syllable of its dialogue, the series managed to take a realistic look at topics such as cheating on exams, dropouts, substance abuse, racial and religious prejudice, and political extremism.

I suspect that more than a few viewers were inspired to enter the profession by watching Mr. Novak and principals Albert Vane and Martin Woodridge battle to bring their students through all these troubles. What incentives would those eyeing the profession possess today when it has become such a political football? 

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