Threats are all around us.
Some are real. Some are perceived. Some are created.
Take, for example, birds.
Birds face real threats. Cats, high tension wires, cars. Each of these threats kill lots of birds.
But the biggest threat to birds are buildings and windows. Out of every 10,000 bird deaths, buildings and windows are responsible for close to 6,000. (See chart below.)
Yet, wind turbines and windmills used to generate electrical power are often blamed for bird deaths. True wind turbines and windmills do kill birds. But the numbers are incredibly small when compared to the other threats that face birds.
What does this have to do with education?
Our students face many threats to learning.
Some of the threats are real. Poverty, lack of opportunity, safe learning environments. Each of these present real threats to students learning.
Yet, there are some who would have us believe that teachers are the greatest threat to student's learning.
It is just not true. Teachers, by and large, have a tremendously positive impact on students and their learning. Teachers help connect students in meaningful ways to their lessons. Teachers create enthusiasm for their subject. Teachers help students learn.
Are there teachers who pose a threat?
Yes. But the number of teachers who pose a threat is so very small. I understand that when teachers do pose a threat to learning - through indifference, through neglect, through incompetence - the outcomes can be devastating. I am not trying to minimize that negative impact.
But there are some in our society who seem to promote this idea that it is the teachers who pose the greatest threat to students. These people then work hard to create policies and pass laws that unnecessarily focus on changing teachers.
There are other threats to student learning that are so much more powerful and devastating than teacher indifference or incompetence.
Instead of creating a threat let's focus on the real threats to student learning - poverty, societal indifference to learning, learning environments that are not safe, and on and on - and work hard to eliminate those threats.
That will make a real difference in our students' lives!