A Retiring Teacher

I have highest regards for teachers.  My mom was a science teacher.  My wife was a special education teacher.   If you have read this blog you know that I have used examples of what is happening to them to show how doctors are following in the same path.  Recently, a 62 year-old teacher called it quits after 27 years at Westhill High School in New York he posted  the text of his resignation letter on Facebook, along with a photo of Porky Pig saying “That’s All Folks!”     You can also read the full text here.   This was not the same as the flight attendant jumping out the escaped hatch with some champagne.  Gerald Conti’s points are very relevant to our profession as well.  I highlighted some for you below but please read the whole thing:

  • I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.”This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.
  •  Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair.
  • My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.  We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven.
  • Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.
  • After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists.
  • For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  6 comments for “A Retiring Teacher

  1. judith turcott
    April 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I am really sorry that another teacher is forced to hang it up, and VERY worried about the state of public education in this country. Every day I read new horror stories and feel helpless in the face of them. And I am very grateul that I got out of the teaching profession way back when it was still a profession. Thank you for your service.

    • Doug Farrago
      April 21, 2013 at 6:54 am

      The same thing will happen (is happening) to us docs

  2. Vance
    April 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Both of my parents were teachers too, and this is EXACTLY why they both took early retirement and got the heck out. If medicine does continue to follow education’s trend, then we’ll have FEWER doctors to care for MORE patients…

    I miss common sense.

  3. Mark C
    April 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    The worst part is that in both professions (medicine and teaching) people are starting to shrug and say “oh well!”. They are losing the drive and passion to fight back against overwhelming odds.

  4. GHD
    April 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Was he speaking of teaching or doctoring?

  5. David Bertoncini
    April 17, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Maybe we can standardize people, instead of standarizing the teaching and medicine professions. It would be much easier to treat a standardized patient…or teach a standardized student.

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