Teachers, Rockstars, and the Godfather

In a recent post, Alfred Thompson referred to an earlier post where he mentioned rock star CS teachers. That's a term I've heard thrown around a lot in the past few years. I've heard some of my graduates referred to as rock stars - top tech people, and in fact I've seen some of them courted for positions in a manner that a rock star might be accustomed to. I've periodically referred to some of my colleagues as rock stars, but I don't know if the term really fits.

So, how else are us teacher folk referred to? More than once I've been called the godfather of K-12 CS education in NYC. Maybe because I've been in the game so long or maybe because a friend once coined the phrase "StuyCS Mafia" to refer to my graduates. It's flattering, but like rock star, it doesn't quite fit the bill. Don Corleone rose to power through both fear and respect. I certainly hope I'm not feared and while I do believe that the people whose opinion I care about respect me, it's far from universal.

So, where does that leave teachers like me, or more so, teachers I aspire to be like?

Not the godfather and not rockstars.

We're bluesmen.


Well, the bluesman's got the chops that the rock star may or may not have. In fact, the rock star always talks about how the bluesman was his greatest influence and inspiration.

But, the rock star gets the accolades and the attention while the bluesman toils in relative obscurity tending to his craft and if acknowledged it's well after his career has ended.

So, there you have it. The best teachers I know are not rock stars, they're bluesmen all about honing their craft and inspiring their students.

One of the things Alfred talked about in his post is the top down influence on CS education. On the one hand, it's brought attention to bear but on the other hand it's being driven by people who don't really get education.

The same can be said for the overall recent big money influences on education.

We'd be much better off if those in power stopped playing rock star and started listening to the bluesmen.


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