Systems, Not Scapegoats

March 17, 2010 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment

by David Price

One of  my favourite edublogs is 'Bridging Differences', the conversation between two formidable US educators, Diane Ravitch and Debbie Meier. This week's post was provoked by a fairly contentious article in Newsweek titled 'Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers'.

You can gauge the quality of the  research by this quote:"In Europe, where teachers enjoy more social prestige and higher salaries, schools have no trouble attracting new teachers with strong academic records."

That aside, there are clearly strong divisions of opinion about the power of teaching unions in the US, and they certainly seem to have a stronger voice (and potentially, a resistance to change) than they do in the UK. I couldn't say if that's a good or bad thing, but it does seem that teacher-bashing has, on both sides of the Atlantic, been with us for a very long time, and shows no sign of going away.

I've just spent the past week with a bunch of teachers who are involved in the Learning Futures project. Every one of them is a credit to their profession: incredibly hard-working, constantly looking to improve their practice, and  driven by a real vocation to make young lives better. We've spent days discussing areas like project-based learning, mentoring, co-constructing curriculum and pedagogy with young people, and how to make schools more permeable to external experts, communities, parents and businesses. I know that, almost by definition, it could be argued that these pedagogues are not typical, but they couldn't be further from the stereotypical image of teachers presented by Newsweek.

The comments which follow Diane Ravitch's post show the sharp divide of opinion that exists in the US, but those who spend their lives in schools consistently argue that it's the system, not the people in it, that has made reform so difficult. Having spent quite a bit of time with teachers, I have to agree.

Posted via email from etc : education, technology and culture

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Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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