Relentless Relentlessness

Robert Pondiscio – Trivia question: Which brothers combined to hit the most home runs in baseball history? Was it the three DiMaggio brothers, Dom, Vince, and Joe? Or maybe it was longtime major leaguers Felipe, Matty, and Jesus Alou. The Boyer boys? Old-timers Paul and Lloyd Waner? The correct answer is Henry and Tommie Aaron. Everyone remembers Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s career record with 755 round-trippers.

You didn’t know he had a brother in the bigs? Tommie Aaron hit home runs like his big brother Hank, just not as many. Thirteen to be precise.

Life is unfair. One brother becomes a baseball immortal; another becomes the answer to a trivia question. Superstars cast long shadows. Steve Farr, chief knowledge officer of Teach For America, will be forgiven if he feels a bit like Tommie Aaron these days. Last February, Farr published Teaching as Leadership, an earnest, well-intentioned book that purports to explain the habits and practices of effective teachers so that others might profit from their example. But then a few weeks later—bang!—along comes Doug Lemov with the education equivalent of a walk-off grand slam.

Heralded by a cover story in the New York Times magazine, Lemov’s book Teach Like a Champion became an instant classic, a best seller, and quite possibly a game changer in the teacher quality debate (see my full review in Education Next,Tools for Teachers,” book review, Spring 2011). Farr’s book was respectfully received, but once Lemov arrived the effect was akin to looking at the moon when the sun comes up. It’s still visible, but it doesn’t shine quite so brightly.

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February 16th, 2011

Staff Reporter

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