Educational Analogy

On July 30 and July 31, 2015, I had an exchange with a poster by the name of “jarvis1975” on Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey’s blog.  Link:

Please read our exchange to understand why, even though teachers are paid much less, individually, than are professional athletes, that their value to the nation’s future is infinitely greater.  I will post our exchange verbatim, below:



There are about 3.1 million public school teachers in the U.S.

Comparing that to elite athletes is like comparing apples to oranges.

Steel is infinitely more useful than gold, but gold prices are still around $1,100 /  oz. while steel prices are comparatively so low that they are measured in metric tons.

Gold is rare, and with that it is desirable and people like to look at it.

Steel is used in almost every industrial process on earth. It’s a tool that makes society function. It’s much more important than gold, but it just isn’t that hard to get.

Scarcity is one of the basic laws of Economics.



“Steel is used in almost every industrial process on earth. It’s a tool that makes society function.”


Well said.  Loved your analogy.  I would spell it out just a little more for some readers.  Teachers, like steel, are the deliverers of education (tools) that make society function.  Thomas Jefferson well knew this and wrote of it often.


Another Poster:


So, to sum up: Steel is a ‘deliverer’ of education and teachers are tools.



@Another Poster

Your analogy lacks symmetry, cohesion, and clarity.

In Jarvis’ analogy, steel is compared with teachers; gold is compared with super athletes.  The first part – steel with gold – is consistent with both being non-human elements; the second part – teachers with super athletes – is consistent with their both being humans (as well as their vastly differing numbers in society – just as there is more steel than gold in society, but more important to its functioning well).



Jarvis, I like your analogy so well that I would like to post it on my personal blog, calling it:  “Educational Analogy.”  Would it be ok with you if I do this and give you credit as author, of course, as “jarvis1975”?




Haha. That’s fine.
Let me know if you want my real name.

My wife and sister are elementary school teachers, and my mom and grandmother were both retired school teachers. I’m an economist of sorts by trade, so I try to have perspective on this sort of thing.




I’m from a long line of teachers on my dad’s side, also!

I thought your analogy was exceptionally informative in explaining why, although teachers as individuals are paid much less than super athletes, their vast numbers, in working with all of the students this nation who will be the nation’s future, are more vital toward keeping the nation functioning well than are the more highly paid, but far fewer, super athletes in our nation.

I would prefer simply to use your pseudonym identification of “Jarvis1975” from Maureen Downey’s blog (with link given to her thread) at the AJC on my blog because I wish to protect your privacy, as well as my own.  My blog’s name is “MaryElizabethSings” and “Sings” is not my surname!  😉

Thank you, Jarvis.  Others, I feel certain, will read your analogy and understand better the value that education and teachers have to our nation’s future.   Best to you!

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