The note above has been floating around the Internet for about a year now, and although it is probably a hoax, it is most notable because it is so believable. I've witnessed similar instances in high school many times. I've heard it said there are three types of police officers: those who do it because it pays the bills, those who do it to make the world a better place, and those who like the power a little too much. I believe it is the same with teachers. The embittered teachers are only a symptom though; the sad fact is our education system is very broken.
This week's TED is by Sir Ken Robinson about our education system, in particular as to how we conceive of intelligence and creativity. Let's watch:
Ken is right. Our current system is set up so that the ideal student will be trained to be a mini professor. By luck, I am the kind of person our current education system was designed for (and by), and I have personally benefited greatly from this. It's my opinion that professors are pretty neat-o, but professors are still only parts, and parts are only useful when well-integrated into a greater whole. Our current understanding of intelligence - in terms of how our societal institutions define, measure, and encourage it - is staggering in its limitation and its folly.
For more thoughts on the nature of intelligence, and how it is (ill)defined, this short essay by Isaac Asimov is a good starting place.
On a related note, Joshua has recently blogged about this article in Time, entitled Are We Failing Our Geniuses?, which takes a look at those who are currently considered our most gifted - and how they make up 20% of current high school drop outs. Truly, our public education is a shrine to literate mediocrity.
Update: Joshua has a reply to this post.