you hear”; teachers who make it
imperative that students find the patterns in everything—and explain what
those patterns reveal.
Give me teachers who say to their
students, “Don’t just provide facts.
Build a case. Evaluate claims by
holding them up against solid evi-
dence. Seek more evidence. Question
the assumptions of others—and
question your own assumptions.”
Give me teachers who push their
students to dig deeper, look at the
other side of things, learn to tolerate
mental messiness and ambiguity, and
value truth more than right answers.
And give me teachers whose class-
rooms and lives commingle logical
thinking, divergent thinking, and
critical thinking—educators who
teach students to be aware of their
own thinking and how it can serve
them poorly or well.
Once the United States has class-
rooms, buildings, grade levels, and
departments stocked with such
teachers, we’ll have STEM for all
students. We’ll have producers, con-
sumers, and connoisseurs of pivotal
ideas. We’ll have thoughtful readers
and viewers of television, and we’ll
have solid citizens. Good stuff!
I’ve always liked John Muir’s
assertion1 that “when we try to pick
out anything by itself, we find it
hitched to everything else in the uni-
verse.” We’ll get the crop of STEM
graduates we need not so much when
we mandate courses in certain disci-
plines as when we support teachers in
all subjects to help their students
develop the attitudes and habits of
mind at the core of seeing—and
seeking to understand—what’s all
around us in the world. And I’d bet
those same habits will lead students to
be wise stewards of that world. EL
1Muir, J. (1988). My first summer in the
Sierra. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 110.
Carol Ann Tomlinson (cat3y@virginia
.edu) is William Clay Parrish Jr.
Professor and Chair of Educational
Leadership, Foundation, and Policy at
the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
She is the author of The Differentiated
Classroom: Responding to the Needs of
All Learners, 2nd Edition (ASCD, 2014)
and, with Tonya R. Moon, Assessment
and Student Success in a Differentiated
Classroom (ASCD, 2013).
Sure enough, after I shared the draft
memo with some younger teachers, a
few items changed. “Does what kind
of sandals I wear really make a difference?” a teacher asked. Not really,
I decided. Another teacher wanted to
make sure the guidelines were appropriate for teachers who spent much of
the day engaged in physical activities
with kids or sitting with them on the
floor. The resulting memo that I sent
was stronger because it included these
5. Explain why and explain again.
Whenever we place a restriction on
behavior, we need to give the rationale.
“Because I said so” doesn’t cut it
today (and I’m not sure that it really
ever did). I explained that we need a
dress code because we always want to
present a professional appearance—
even if it’s casual. We don’t want to
dress in a way that causes others to
question our judgment. After sending
the memo, I raised the issue at a
faculty meeting and asked if there were
any questions or comments. I got lots
of affirmative nods and a few “makes
Now you can see why this issue
took more time and energy than I
anticipated. What could have been a
big deal remained a little thing. And
I hope that the teacher’s comment
that ended the memo also elicited a
Author’s note: Readers who would like a
copy of the dress code guidelines should
send me an e-mail at trhoerr@newcity
Thomas R. Hoerr (trhoerr@newcity
school.org) is head of school at the
New City School, 5209 Waterman
Ave., St. Louis, MO 63108. He is the
author of The Art of School Leadership
(ASCD, 2005) and Fostering Grit: How
Do I Prepare My Students for the Real
World? (ASCD, 2013).
Continued from p. 90
The Kind of STEM Teachers We Need
Continued from p. 91
“Because I said so”
doesn’t cut it today
(and I’m not sure that
it really ever did).
were inquirers on
the verge of figuring
out something deeply
important to them.