education, Humour, Pop Culture, Rants, Suburban, Teacher

Because I’m tired of businessmen telling me how to teach

Money and fame do not automatically make you brilliant and all-knowing. One would think this would go without saying. And yet… Why, as a society, are we so quick to follow the “teachings” of the rich and famous?! Take for example, the idiots people who followed the advice of former Playboy model, now-turned talk show host, Jenny McCarthy and stopped vaccinating their kids. Jenny, going on the advice of a doctor who later turned out to be a liar, said a vaccination caused her son to “catch” autism.  Amazingly, millions of people listened to her. When the doctor was later called out as being a fraud and even Jenny admitted she might have been a little bit wrong, it was too late for all of those little munchkins who missed their annual shots. jenny Now, personally, I think if you follow medical advice dished out by blondes who strip for money, then you deserve what you get. Unfortunately, these people didn’t get what they deserved…their children did.  And now we have an outbreak of measles sweeping the country. What’s next? Smallpox? Polio? (Oh crap…seriously?) But I digress. I’m so tired of people who know nothing about education telling me how I should do my job and how I should be compensated for it.  I mean, really, who knows more about educating children than somebody who has spent their life making money? Someone who probably hasn’t laid eyes on a child he isn’t related to since he went to school. (And yes, I say “he”, because it’s usually the business’men’ who feel they could save public education if people would just listen to all of the great insight and wisdom they have gained while making their money.) My humble opinion is that these businessmen want schools to pump out good little workers who will keep the economy churning. Whenever you hear one of these successful businessmen slamming education, they always finish with, “If we don’t change things now, we will never be able to compete with those Asian countries who keep beating us on the math assessments!” None of them ever says, “I hope the children in my country get a well-rounded education that prepares them to be good citizens in their families, their communities and the world.” Nope. It’s all about keeping the worker-factory churning. A few months ago, there was an interview in the Atlantic Business Magazine with John Risley, a man who made his fortune in the seafood industry. He’s obviously a brilliant businessman (he’s a self-made billionaire), but it seems his vast wealth has also made him an expert in other areas. In the article, he gave his opinions on everything from politics to education. And he didn’t hold back. {We} have the worst P-12 education system in the country. That’s not subjective. We have the worst goddamn math scores in the country!”  (Uh, actually…that IS subjective. It’s the definition of subjective. You can’t call us the “worst” without presenting facts to back it up.) He goes on to talk about how education could be improved in the province, if the government would just listen to him. Another businessman with a lot of money thinks everyone should be listening to him as well.  Bill Black, who now has a regular column in the newspaper, made his fortune in the insurance industry.  And despite having no background or training whatsoever in education, he frequently takes to the pages of our local paper to talk about how the education system, and teachers in particular, are completely off track. Of course, he knows how to fix things. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when it’s presented as expert advice, that’s when I have a problem. I don’t tend go around shooting my mouth off about how to run an insurance company because I am not an expert on running insurance companies. So, why are these men being given mountains of white space in our local papers to talk about things they know nothing about? Just because someone is an expert in one area doesn’t given them knowledge or expertise in another.


The leader of this movement of businessmen who think they can fix the world is Bill Gates. I get it. He’s a genius in the field of technology and an expert in marketing and money-making. But does he have a background in education? Nope. And yet there he is, leading the way for educational reform in the United States. And things aren’t going well. I leave you with the words of the wise Barb from the Trailer Park Boys telling the dim, shirtless Randy not to interfere in matters he knows nothing about: “Randy, you know, when I want advice on cheeseburgers or not wearing a shirt, you’re the person I’ll come to.”(Season 2, Episode 7) So, fellows, if I want advice on how to catch a lobster or run an insurance company or build a multi-billion dollar empire, I’ll call you. But if I want advice on how to teach? I think I’ll put my money on teachers.

17 thoughts on “Because I’m tired of businessmen telling me how to teach”

  1. Wonderful piece once again…why do some people feel compelled to speak on things they know very little about? Who knows… Anyway, I won’t offer any advice unless of course it’s on cheeseburgers…like Randy, I too have eaten my share of those…

  2. That is why I trust the experts, like yourself. How can someone provide advice unless they have applied that knowledge in the real world, with young people in the school system who rely on that knowledge…understanding that everyone learns in a different way. This is no different from any other profession. Thank you!

    1. Thanks. I do think that we can all learn from each other, but it goes both ways. Teachers could probably offer business people advice on giving presentations, working with staff, and analyzing data but I’ve never heard of the advice flowing in that direction. Perhaps if it did, I’d be less cranky about it. 😉

  3. Bravo! I think a lot of people fancy themselves experts on education simply because they went to school. They know how it works… Which is insane! I’ve been to the hospital a few times, but that doesn’t mean I can tell doctors how to better do their job. Like you said, some exchanges between the worlds of education and business are not only potentially useful, but probably essential. But getting direction on education reform from non-experts in the field is what has set us back!

  4. I guess everyone will have a personal view about school systems and these people are making statements based on those views. The only reason is that they had exposure, money and people who would listen to them. Being an Indian, I always thought of our education system as something really stupid. But that doesn’t mean that the system that produced so many geniuses, is totally wrong. It just means that I’m an unhappy product. And I guess, with years of wisdom and money making skills, these people tend to think that they have some responsibility to stand up for things that they think are wrong. They need not be right all the time as their statements and judgements generally arise from a personal opinion where as the systems they stand against mostly are designed for the greater good.
    🙂 Though I am a nobody, your words made me rethink about the statements I make about our system. I guess there is truth in your words when you said, “be in the system to break or change it”. Thanks, hey.

  5. Reblogged this on Dionysian GENERATOR and commented:
    As teachers, we have to deal with others telling us about our jobs almost constantly. Here is an enjoyable and cogent post about this very thing from Suburbanprincessteahcer.

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