I always thought of a shiny red apple as the quintessential gift of thanks to a teacher. It is a symbol; recognition of the immense effort required to impart understanding to a learner. Fruit, in itself, is a product. It is the outcome of a laborious and beautiful process that requires time, energy and optimal conditions. Time magazine’s depiction of the teachers themselves as apples; rotten or otherwise, suggests a fundamental flaw in their view of teachers and the process of educating children.

Just the image of a teacher as an apple is offensive. All apples eventually rot. They are at the end of the cycle. If anything, teachers are the tree. They are always growing and changing. Sometimes they need some pruning, but they always have the ability to grow again with the proper environment. No one would argue that some trees are better than others, but the actual designation of which are good and bad is completely subjective. Some trees are good because of the quantity of fruit they produce. Others are good for the quality of their fruit. Others produce very little fruit, but are great at providing shade and shelter from a harsh environment. Some trees provide a place for children to climb, explore and be inspired. Trees offer new perspectives; each limb giving a different view of the world below.

Unlike trees, apples can only be consumed or thrown away. Time magazine should be presenting teachers as the producers, not the produce that is destined for the compost bin.