Education reform was conceived as a way to save the system from all the “weak” teachers out there. Okay, you know what? I’ve seen some “weak” teachers in my time.
I think most of us would agree, weak teachers have some or all of the following traits:
- They simply assign and assess instead of teach.
- They don’t think, they aren’t creative, and they want everything handed to them so they don’t have to work hard.
- They don’t really get to know their students. They don’t look beneath the surface of what’s happening with their students.
- Weak teachers aren’t too bright themselves: there’s a lack of intellectual curiosity, a lack of interest in the world around them, a lack of questioning.
With that brief picture of a “weak” teacher in mind, let’s look at how education reform has tried to solve the problem:
Since weak teachers seem to simply assign and assess all the time, lets make all teachers constantly assign and assess! Formatives! Summatives! District assessments! State assessments! Assign and assess, all day, every day!
Since weak teachers don’t think much about what they’re doing, aren’t creative, and rely on other people to hand them materials and tell them what to do, let’s make sure all teachers are unthinking. Let’s prohibit creativity for all teachers. Let’s micromanage all teachers!
Since weak teachers don’t really get to know their students, lets make sure no teachers get to know their students: turn students into data points and learning into depersonalized data intake and output.
Since weak teachers don’t look beneath the surface to see what might be getting in the way of student learning, but instead just slap grades on them, let’s make sure no teachers look beneath the surface. Analyze data, but never actually talk to a student!
Since weak teachers aren’t intellectually curious, don’t really think about big picture issues, explore uncharted territory with their students, or read widely in multiple areas of interest, let’s keep all teachers so busy doing busy work that they won’t have time for intellectual pursuits.
Since weak teachers never question anything or really think about what goes on in their classroom, let’s try to ensure that no teachers ever question anything, but do just as they are told.
Doesn’t that make sense as a way to reform education?
I don’t think so either.