Teachers need to be more like good doctors than assembly line educators

Floor Plan D

Floor Plan D

By John Gardner

I’ve written about “factory education”:

I have never worked on a factory assembly line and the only time I’ve ever witnessed a major line in operation up close was when GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly (opened 1986) offered an Open House type tour to the public. The worker should care about the quality of the assembled product, but cannot become attached to each one as it goes by.

We want doctors to become attached to each individual patient, to empathize, to “feel their pain”. Of course, doctors are often dealing with life/death situations, so a direct comparison with teaching is difficult there. Like teachers, doctors must establish a healthy, professional detachment….but they should always be trying to “make a difference to THAT one“.

Most of us have experienced the quality doctor who has to look at the file to get the name, and who you know will have to look at the file to get your name again the next visit. Don’t be a teacher like THAT doctor.

It would be easy for a teacher to full into that trap.

A typical teacher in a high school academic class has six classes per day with about 25 students in each approximate 50-minute class. For every page of written work, the teacher has 150 pages of papers to grade. A 500-word essay means 75,000 words to read. For any test/assignment that takes 5 minutes to grade, that is 750 minutes, or 12.5 hours of out-of-classroom work. If it takes 15 minutes to prepare for class, that is 1.5hrs of prep time daily. It can be difficult for a teacher to have even brief conversations with every student, especially frequently. We don’t want to just be paper-graders and data-watchers, however.

The assembly line worker should care about the product, but will not be personally attached to it. The doctor takes the more personal approach to the individual, allowing professional caring to help in providing professional care.


We need to be more like the doctor.

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Don't try to figure out what all the words on this word wall mean. Let me go to work for you instead.

Don’t try to figure out what all the words on this word wall mean. Let me go to work for you instead.

15 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them.Also 4yrs as proprietor of VirtualMusicOffice.com, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

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