Teachers and student reportingPosted: July 21, 2008
After a month traveling in the USA and visiting TAM6 this little black duck has made it back to Adelaide. Stories from the United States of Woo will appear as I regain my grasp on reality, it took a dent over the 3 weeks and 4000 miles of driving on the wrong side of the road.
Anyway, in todays Advertiser we have a story of teachers yet again complaining about having to grade their students (or are they called “customers” in this postmodern world of woo?) using an A->E system. Evidently such a system may be “damaging to students’ self-esteem”.
Heaven friggin’ forbid we actually tell students when they are crap or need to pull the finger out. The reason to pull the system? “It’s a “hangover” from a previous government”. So that’s the criteria? Sheesh. Having had 2 children go through the public education system I feel I have ability to comment on the system of public education we have.
Pure and simple crap and most of the issues stem from exactly the same people who lead the teachers. The current state of our science and math education in public primary schools is abysmal, science rooms converted to store rooms, no science teachers and teachers with other backgrounds in the arts shoehorned into teaching maths badly and without any enthusiasm.
And yet whenever their is an idea that sounds progressive, like grading students objectively or even grading the quality of teachers and rewarding them for performance it is pooh poohed by the teaching union and the political lackeys with close ties to teaching. And here we have these same people wanting to pull an objective measuring system for one based on words.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but our children will be competing for education and employment and careers in a world where objectivity and reality are the norm. Sticking your head in the sand and not calling a spade a spade when little Johny or Mary is struggling with learning is verging on child abuse. You are lying to children to protect them from reality. In no way does this help a child with their self esteem, good bad or indifferent.
My wife and I have many friends with teenage children, many are now finishing off high school and there is a disturbing trend. Throughout their (public) school life they got great grades and everything was rosy. However when it came to the independent SACE exams which contribute to a SACE score and is used for higher education entrance they flunk out. Everyone seems surprised until you ask about the grades the public schools were giving. Now, we know these kids and have known many from kindergarten and if a kids not too bright then it’s pretty apparent. And yet the schools were giving great grades. Sure, it made the teachers look OK but the kids are stuffed when their plans fall into a heap and reality strikes. IMHO this is very, very cruel however the system responsible seems to put the welfare of the teachers career above that of their children. And that sucks.
From first hand experience many teachers need a serious amount of retraining, to put it politely. In a private school they would simply be sacked. And yet at every twist and turn many teachers and their union put their members welfare and careers above that of their students. They will block teacher grading, student grading or any suggested the public education system is broken.
You may wonder why I’m talking about this, what has it to do with skepticism? Well, we are currently looking at where we can get the best bang for buck in promoting science and critical thinking in general and school age children have the best opportunity for developing these skills. (Adults have missed the boat but thats a separate story.) However to promote critical thinking, math and science in schools we are going to need to work with the system and there’s the rub.
The sort of people of run the countries education systems do not even recognise that objective measurements and comparisons are useful.
Although considering how few have any scientific background this should not come as surprise. With such a blatant ignorance of objectivity and disconnect with reality this will not be an easy task. However the world of Woo has similarities with Wack-a-Mole, it doesn’t go away easily and if there is something that is apparent after the last few decades,it is that fighting woo as it raises it’s head is not a winning long term strategy.
Now before I get flamed I’m not saying all teachers are crap. Ok, just most of them. And the last thing they want is any system that will allow a measurement of their performance. Either directly or through their students grades. It’s perfectly natural and I understand the psychology behind such things. However in the long run it’s damaging to a lot more that just esteem and the declining ranking of Australian students in various internationally measures is not good. Until the teachers union sorts it’s leadership out with a serious dose of reality I’m afraid it will be same ol’, same ‘ol.