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Teacherly Aphorisms to Live By--and Fight For

Publication Date: 2011-05-30

On NPR's Weekend Edition, Sunday (May29, 2011) David Loxtercamp, a Maine community practice doctor, offered what he's learned over the years in the style of Hippocratic aphorisms (created in the School of Hippocrates on the island of Kos, 400 BC.)

Dr. Loxtercamp said, "I tried to distill what I've learned. And what I've come up with is it could be 20, it could be five; these 14 are important to me and so I'll present them to you for your reflection."

I borrowed from Dr. Loxtercamp, converting his aphorisms to a teacher context.



  • Education is not a commodity.

  • Children with learning difficulties are not a disease.

  • Experienced teachers are an asset, not a liability.

  • Prescribing educational fixes is easy; working with students day in and day out is hard.

  • Doing all that the Feds require is not the same as doing what we should.

  • Quality is more than metrics.

  • Students cannot see outside their difficulties, we cannot see in, relationship is the only bridge between.

  • Time is precious; we must fight those who don't allow us to spend it on what we value.

  • The most common condition we work with is unhappiness.

  • And the greatest obstacle to treating a student's unhappiness is the U. S. Department of Education and its alter-ego, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Nothing is more student-centered than the library.

  • The U. S. Department of Education expects too much from data and not enough from conversation.

  • Community should be a locus of learning, not federal mandates.

  • The foundation of learning is conversation and hope.

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