You have good teachers of all different personality types, all different sizes and shapes. And so this is an art, this is not a science.
One of the things we’ve learned is there is no perfect way to measure teacher quality. And that’s because there’s not one good kind of teacher. We all know teachers who are incredibly charismatic, who are really good teachers. We also know teachers who are sort of shy and diffident and they can also be quite good teachers.
What you remember from your high school teachers is not so much the curriculum, you remember the way of being that teacher possessed.
If a student walked into a classroom or walked into six classrooms every day, that student would feel heard. I mean, what do we all want in life? We all want to feel heard, we want to feel acknowledged, we want to feel there’s some recognition there. And if a student felt recognized in each and every classroom they went to, then they would be happy to go to that classroom. And they would absorb. They would trust the teacher. And they would absorb a way of being from the teacher.
I think we need tests and we need to apply those tests to individual teachers, to individual schools, to individual students and to individual parents.
People go into education because they love students. They want to teach students, they want to help the world. And people who are in education want to reward each other and they want to feel good about themselves and about each other. So there’s a natural human aversion to the painful message that sometimes has to be delivered that says, "we’re not doing well enough and not only we as a collective are not doing well enough, but you as an individual are not doing well enough."
Some of the things we need to do to really make school a more emotionally addictive place.
The current K through 12 educational system is obviously failing on a bunch of levels. You look at the results. The number one thing is improving the quality of the relationship between the teacher and the student. Now how do you do that? Well, there’s no one quick answer, but obviously the first thing is to get good people into the classroom. Good teachers into the classroom and get bad teachers out of the classroom. And to take the teachers who are mediocre and improve them. and so that sometimes involves a fair bit of churning, but I think the best thing we can do immediately is to either improve or get rid of the bottom six or seven percent. The studies show that doing that would make a big difference.
Brooks’s books include Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (2000), in which Brooks combined the words bohemian and bourgeois to coin the term ‘Bobo’ in order to describe today’s corporate upper class, the descendants of the yuppies. Brooks argues this marriage between bohemian and bourgeois represents a fusion of the liberal idealism of the 1960s with the self-interest of the 1980s.
Four years later Brooks published On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense (2004). The thesis of this book connects the material drives of the American middle class with its focus on the future. Brooks’s new book is called The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, published in March 2011. The Social Animal deals primarily with what drive individuals' behavior and decision making and how we form our emotions and character.