The point of this cartoon isn't that things have changed a lot since 1961; in fact, it's quite the opposite -- the point here is to ask why has so little changed?
The expressions in the comic should tell us all we need to know about how little things have changed. While the smug teacher and fearful child have exchanged roles, the parents remain angry.
A work or learning environment that is built on a foundation of smugness, fear and anger is destined for failure. So what is the source of all these destructive and counter-productive feelings?
The Grade Book.
Teaching and learning has been hijacked by testsandgrades. The entire system is driven to distraction. In many ways its rotten at the core. We've confused measurement with assessment and forgotten that the root word for assessment is assidere with translates into 'to sit beside'. We've come to see assessment as a spreadsheet when it's really a conversation.
Testsandgrades were originally tools used by teachers, but today teachers are tools used by testsandgrades. This shouldn't come as any surprise, especially if you are familiar with some of Marshal McLuhan's work who once said:
We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.Testsandgrades are instruments of control that merely garnish short-term compliance at a time when what we really need is engagement. This is precisely why professional learning communities that are driven by testsandgrades are prisons for teachers made by teachers.
The less time and effort you spend with students the greater the urge and perceived need to rely on testsandgrades. Teachers who rely on a spreadsheet during parent-teacher interviews, and parents who demand to see the spreadsheet, are all the proof we need that reductionist data such as testsandgrades excuses adults from playing an authentic and active role in their children's education.
Ultimately this comic should teach us that whether you are proud of high testsandgrades or ashamed of low ones, you are perpetuating the problem.