On the Education debate

Education reform is a politically sensitive issue.
Yet a few articles I came across recently made me think about the issue.

“As descriptions, both arguments—accountability and autonomy—contain a measure of truth. Teachers do lack some of the freedom they need to teach well, and they also lack adequate feedback. But as prescriptions, actual suggestions for how to improve teaching, the arguments fail. Neither change, on its own, will produce better teachers. Basic math makes the problem with accountability clear: Discard the bottom 10 percent and, as Obama said, that’s thirty thousand teachers who will need to be replaced. And that’s just in California. Nationally, the number is more than ten times that. Autonomy, meanwhile, is an experiment that many schools have tried for years, and still seen teachers struggle.”

Another article that talks about these ‘free market reflexes’ is the following http://baselinescenario.com/2013/12/11/free-market-reflexes/#more-10763

“That just doesn’t follow. And anyone who’s worked in an actual company should realize that. Yes, it’s always better to have better workers. One way to get better workers is to hire more effective people and to fire less effective people. But the other way—which, in most industries, is by far more important—is to make your current workforce more effective. You do that in part by figuring out what attributes or processes make people more effective, and in part by training people and implementing processes in ways that improve productivity.”

I think the myth of the ‘naturally born teacher’ leads to such logical absurdities as those above. Talent and skill need cultivation, and we rarely hear the need for such improvements in Education. In software engineering – and I work for a company in that sector – there is feedback from other experts via say ‘code review’. But how much feedback is given to new teachers from their peers. Feedback from exam results is not necessarily correlated with good teaching skill.

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