Sunday, December 12, 2010
Data is fabulous
In defense of the teachers in this video, someone might wish to blame the system. Some might say "teachers have to do what they have to do with state, provincial or federal regulations." To this, I say "what about the kids?" An educator who dismisses what is in the best interest of the kids in the name of self-perseverance isn't much of an educator at all.
If you can see why we should teach children to be mindful of the consequences of their actions, then you have to see why teachers too must be mindful of their own actions.
When I relate this to education, I see teachers taking orders from all kinds of authority figures (politicians, superintendents, principals) as if the teacher was simply an agent of the state.
After all, they are just following orders.
After administrating a standardized test, the follow-up interview with a compliant teacher might go something like this:
Q: It looks like you were under some stress?
A: I found it quite stressful. Yeah I did.
Q: But you went on.
A: I did. Yeah. Because my principal said that these tests wouldn't damage the kids long term. So...
Q: So if by chance these tests do hurt the kids, whose responsibility would that have been?
A: Well, in the eye's of the Lord it would be my fault. Morally, it would be my fault. And I could argue that I was following procedure layed out by my government, superintendent or principal. Perhaps I could blame them. But in reality it would be me prepping and administring the test.
Q: And even with the burden of the knowledge, that morally you are responsible - you went on?
A: Hmm. I'm not entirely pleased about that, but I did. Yeah.
Q: How do you interpret the kid's reactions to these tests seeing that the bulk of a student's intelligence evades the clutches of these kinds of tests?
A: I didn't... I don't know... I didn't actually think about it - maybe I probably should have - but I didn't think about it that much. So... my job was to teach the curriculum and prepare them for the test. So...
And the interview with a non-compliant teacher might go like this:
Q: You were involved in an important exercise in educational accountability and the principal told you to go prep and administer the test. Why did you disobey?
A: It sounded a little bit like the Nazis in the Second World War Germany. It wasn't my fault - it wasn't me, I was told to do it.
Q: The majority of teachers go along with this testing - they prep their kids and administer the test.
A: I find that scary. I find that very scary.