Do We Have Education that Malala Yousafzai Would Die For?

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Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai; via Russell Watkins/Department for International Development. –

“That chocolate cake was to die for!”

How often have we heard people gushing over a dessert, or a new outfit, or the service at a luxury hotel, with this phrase? I’m guessing, though, that you’ve never heard anyone say this:

Boy, this school provides an education that is simply to die for!

In some parts of the world, though, an education actually is to die for. Consider Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who put her life on the line, and nearly lost it, just for the opportunity to go to school.

She believes so deeply in the power of education that she does not wish revenge on the Taliban who shot her and threatened to hunt her down after she survived.

I want education for the sons and daughters of all extremists, especially the Taliban. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Malala Yousafzai

But only if that teacher isn’t a bad teacher, if we are to believe the rhetoric circulating around the United States lately. Ask Malala Yousafzai what makes a great teacher, and somehow I doubt standardized test scores and value-added measures will enter the conversation.

Are there problems with education in our country? Certainly. Are there teachers who could be doing the job better? Of course, just as there are in any profession. Humiliating teachers and attaching arbitrary labels like “Rotten Apples” won’t help.

But there’s a flip side to this. While there’s no reason to vilify teachers either as a group or individually, I do believe all teachers should ask, on a daily basis, whether the education they are providing is meaningful to their students. What are you doing as a teacher to make sure all students are getting the most out of their time in your classroom?

Would Malala Yousafzai find education at your school that she could stand behind?

In short, are you providing an education to die for?

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Gerald Aungst

Supervisor of Gifted and Elementary Math at School District of Cheltenham Township
Gerald Aungst has more than 20 years experience as a professional educator, specializing in digital technology, mathematics, and gifted education. In his various roles as a classroom teacher, gifted support specialist, administrator, curriculum designer, and professional developer, he has worked to create a rich and vibrant learning culture. He is also passionate about improving learning opportunities for all students. Gerald is a founder of and

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