As good a topic as any to kick off this blog, I suppose. 🙂
“Our revolutionary approach to test prep can help your test scores soar. Guaranteed.”
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the temptation–you think your approach to teaching the test is the best (otherwise you wouldn’t be teaching that way) and you have at least a few students who tell you that they think your way of teaching is the best. And probably a few of those students will tell you that they’ve studied at other places before and didn’t like it.
A good friend of mine and I for many years have had a running joke about how many people you need to agree with you for you to think that your belief is incontrovertible. Yes, we believe that for many people (including us in many cases) that that number is surprisingly low–two, to be exact. As he wryly says, “Well, if you and I agree, then that means it’s true.” Although I believe he is actually making the statement that he thinks it is wrong for people to make this leap, I have never actually confirmed that this is the case.
The same thing is happening here–a teacher thinks her approach is the best and she has some students who agree (after all, why would they study with her if they didn’t?). And students tend to stay with the teachers they like; if they study with you, there’s that much more likelihood that they like you.
But even a little critical analysis would correctly show that not every newcomer or test prep service can be “revolutionary.” Really, there are only so many ways that we can teach how to do analogies or what my students like to call “guess and check.” And I’m happy to say that I don’t think caring about your students and their success is revolutionary, either–I have known dozens of teachers who cared about their students and went the extra mile for them even when there was no tangible benefit in doing so.
So what would truly revolutionary education involve? It’s hard to say for sure, but at least in the United States, it would involve spending more money on the students, on improving the learning environment, and on providing a wage with which teachers could live at least a middle-class life.