A country cannot have good teachers until it has good schools.A country cannot have good teachers until it has good schools.

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This discussion is quite interesting, and I love the answers so far.  One thing that came to my mind as I read the statement was Robert Frost's  poem, "Death of a Hired Man."  I remember this line:

Home is the place where, when you have to go here,/They have to take you in. (122-123).

Yes, a school is just a building, but when a student has to go there, a school, a "home" for the student, takes the student in and cares for him or her, even if the student is "dying" metaphorically, as the hired man is literally dying in the poem.

For many students, school is the only home they have.  And this is not only figurative, but also sometimes literal, since I have had homeless students. School represents a continuity in student lives, and even when they have homes, a school should be offering the student stability that might not exist at home. To some degree, a school can be good in this way, even if the teachers are not good teachers.

Much of a response to this "prompt" is a function of how one defines a good school and how one defines a good teacher. McBride himself admitted that he knew nothing about teaching, and it did not sound as though there was anything "good" about the school he taught in. But the school and he took the students in, and while what he gave them would probably not qualify as good teaching now, he gave them something far more precious - he gave them himself.  I have to wonder what happens to a McBride in today's NCLB world,  a good teacher in a bad educational world.

Would any of the schools Greg Mortenson has set up qualify as good schools? Do these schools have good teachers?  Azar Nafisi made her own school, to read Lolita and other banned western works. She taught at a university that I doubt made her the good teacher she is.

I think a good school is a school that says,"Here are your students," and gets out of the way.  As someone degreed in education, I hate to say this, but I think good teachers make themselves.  We have good teachers in bad schools, and bad teachers in good schools. I don't think there is all that much of a relationship.

Schools are controlled locally, no matter how much money the federal government throws at them, and unlike Japan, which has an almost completely homogeneous population, that local control will continue to foster a kind of variability that makes it nearly impossible to have a learning climate that is nationally driven.  For this particular country to have good schools and good teachers, the momentum is from the bottom up, not from the top down. Those of us responsible for teaching and for schools should simply focus on being the people who take our students in. 

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I disagree.  Anywhere there are good teachers there is a good school, but you cannot have a good school without good teachers.  And what about students?  Shouldn't they fit in there somewhere?

A school, or a school district, is an institution, a small city.  It has school boards and layers of bureaucracy.  It is regulated by money and resources.  Much depends on the socio-economic background of the population.  Most upper class schools have better students, resources, and results than lower-class schools.  I'm not a class warrior, but it's an inevitability.  Socio-economics, as much as anything, determines success or failure according to most results-oriented parents and administrators who see education as a system.  Too often, teachers are deemed good or bad based on simply where they teach.  If they teach in a good (i.e., upper class) school, they must be a good teacher--so the logic goes.

The best teachers are those who refuse to play by the rules of self-fulfilling prophecies or socio-economic determinism.  They are rebels who have no "schools."  They teach one-on-one, like Socrates to Plato, Plato to Aristotle, Aristotle to Alexander, Emerson to Thoreau.  Good teachers are those who teach in schools that really need them: Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes, taught in New York public schools (some of which would be failures by No Child Left Behind standards) for 30 years.  Can you imagine being taught creative writing by a Pulitzer Prize winner?  A good teacher is Jaime Escalante, whose barrio students consistently test well on the AP Calculus test even though the school had previously said they were incapable of doing so.  Good teachers do not work for institutions; they serve the content and the students.  They are institutions unto themselves.

James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've read all of the other posts, enjoyed the comments, and have one of my own to add.

While most posters seem to believe that the teachers make the schools, not the other way around, I think we could just as easily argue that good teachers will rarely stay around if their workplace environment is not satisfying. A school is more than a building and administration and turmoil; it is a workplace and a place of learning. If the resources and support are not present (such as good desks, teaching materials, decent salaries, etc.), most of the good teachers will leave that school and go elsewhere. A few will always stick around, of course, out of a sense of commitment to the community or something else, but the truly talented among the fresh, new group of teachers are likely to bail at the first decent opportunity. A previous poster also commented that good schools are needed to produce good teachers.

So maybe we could revise the statement to read as follows: "Good teachers make good schools, but schools must be good to keep the current good teachers and to produce new ones." (I'm leaving out the whole issue of "country" here, of course. I think that the term "country" makes the issue even more complicated, as it brings in issues of national oversight, wealth, traditions, access to education, etc.)

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The statement that a country cannot have good teachers until it has good schools is rather like the old chicken versus egg saying. The truth is that in most countries it is important to have good teachers, good schools and motivated pupils and parents in order to achieve an excellent education system. That includes kindergarten, junior, senior and university level. For example, in a country like South Africa where resources were denied to a certain segment of the population, achievement in that sector lagged way behind the privileged classes. Now that things are more equal there, it is good to see young students making the most of the new opportunities for personal development and advancement in careers. It it certainly tru that if many of these students then stay on to teach, then the education system will improve swiftly for others.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can argue that  good schools are needed to produce educated people.  If the adults in your country grew up going to very substandard schools, how can they possibly have gotten a good education?  If the adults have not gotten a good education, how will they be able to teach others?  So, it seems to me that having good schools makes it much easier to have educated adults who can become good teachers themselves.

However, there must be some way to get good schools started.  I suppose it can be done by teachers educated in foreign countries who produce the first well-educated students.

But it can also be done by a slow process of gradual improvement.


booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

History is full of incredible "teachers" who often had no "school"  from which to teach. Some of my own best teaching has come when I've had no actual "school." I've taught community children's groups where we've done all our "schooling" outside. I've taught adult groups where we've just borrowed a room in an old building somewhere. I think it's people who make education, not buildings.

That said, "good schools" are sure a nice benefit! I love walking into a building that has all the latest. But that environment does not make me a better teacher; sometimes I'm more creative when left to my own invention.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not true.  There are many excellent teachers who teach in schools with little or no resources for their students, and yet they still reach them.  Take any one of the recent and classic teacher movies for examples...Ron Clark is no different! 

arrellbelle | Student

What makes a good school? When I think about it, good schools incorporate teachers with a love for learning and a passion for teaching kids. A teacher will be the third party that is primarily involved in a child's life and they are people that they look up to. When you look at schools such as Finland's, you see that one of the reasons as to why their students are the top in the word is because you have teachers who genuinely care for their students and are willing to teach extra to those who learn slowly than others. They evoke the idea of no child being left behind.

doctora | Student

  We are in danger of "good schools" being defined by big business and high stakes testing.  Teachers fear test scores and follow practices that do not capitalize on what we know of how children learn and develop.  Courageous teachers and administrators can transfor schools.  We must once more build on the knowledge and excitement that all children bring to our classrooms.  This week I attended a conference that was organized by a leading education association.  Virtually every presentation was connected with an educationally related business.  We paid to attend sessions calculated to sell product.  Good teachers can and do make the difference.  I work in a school that is 97 percent free lunch.  The population is comprised of Native American, Mexican,Black and White students in that order.  Our children are polite and eager to learn.  Our teachers are caring, well meaning individuals who embrace ideas when presented in a respectful manner.  Our schedules are interrupted far too frequently with testing, testing, and more testing as well as computer programs that are often performed mindlessly by the students.  It is time for education to tell business and government what we need to do our job and not for our profession to be dictated to by business and government.  We can have good schools when teachers are allowed to value their students and teach the way they see fit. 

jannats-singh | Student


a country cannot have good school without good teachers.

this is more appropriate.

nusratfarah | Student

A country must have good educators first, then it will automatically secure the betterment of the educational institutions. Good teachers are the first necessity because they are the torch-bearers. Even it is proved that, where there is no good teacher, administration fails even when the administrative authority is very controlling and strict. The better the educators are, the better the learners will be. And a school is not only a mere house or building, but a place consisted of students as well as teacher(s). What the teacher will convey to his or her student, it will affect the learners for sure. If the affect is positive, the student will be led to the path of enlightenment, and vice versa. So, whether the student stands for a good image of the school or not, largely depends on the teachers. Parents alone can not handle students. It is the teacher who shows the way of true enlightenment to the students. That is why, geniuses like Alexander, Aristotle and Plato needed a guide for each.

krishna-agrawala | Student

A school may be defined as place where students learn from teachers. A good school is a school which teaches its student well. And to teach well a school needs good teachers. Therefore Good teachers make a good school rather than good school making good teachers.

Of course a school has many other facilities and systems that influence the nature of teaching and and learning. In this way a school can help or hinder the effectiveness of a teacher in the school. A well organized school may also provide facilities and guidance to its teachers to develop and improve their teaching skills. The school may also provide some motivations to the teachers to put in their best efforts. However all these factors have limited influence on quality of teachers.

epollock | Student


Schools are simply buildings. What makes a school are all the people working toward a common goal and objective, just like in any business. A school consists of not only teachers, but principals, employees, students, and indirect participants such as parents, benefactors and alumni.

If any of these segments is not functioning well, that will result in a poorly run school. Every school that has turmoil, has a segment that is either working against the others, or just simply not doing all they can do. 

When the people in a school are successful, the school will be successful. And when the school is successful, the students will go to good colleges or develop into fine technicians or craftsmen, and society will benefit as a whole.