Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Damon suggests that teachers teach because they want to, adding that they wouldn't take a "shitty" paying job if they didn't want to do the job. He adds that the current problem with education reform is the business world mentality that fails to account for the complexities involved in educating today's students.
Damon demonstrates perfectly the complexities within education reform, though not in the way he hoped. The problem with Damon's rhetoric, and that of many opposed to the current reform trends, is that they speak of teachers in terms of absolutes; it is the same problem many of the current reformists have as well.
That many teachers teach because they want to, because they love to, does not demonstrate a failure of philosophy in the reformist movement. Any rational minded educator must admit that their are plenty of teachers who teach to collect a paycheck and enjoy all the time off--and yes, I accept that teachers do get plenty of time off, though I would also suggest that it is often needed. There are plenty of teachers who have become complacent with their years of service and are now less effective. And there are plenty of teachers coasting until retirement. An honest person cannot dispute this.
Damon and the anti-reformists need to focus on addressing the real failures of philosophy in the reformist camp, mainly the general belief that student learning is mostly dependent on the teacher--though I believe students have a greater chance to learn with an effective teacher.
The reform movement also needs to tone down the rhetoric. That plenty of teachers lack effectiveness does not justify the severity with which the reform movement would like to take action.
Allow me to use a baseball analogy. Theo Epstein, the General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, is the poster-boy for sabermetrics, a deep statistical analysis of virtually every quantifiable aspect of a baseball player. These statistics are then used to place value on a player based on their previous and statistically projected outcomes. In recent years, Epstein has brought players with great statistical outcomes into the Boston market. However, some of those players, who were excellent players, failed to achieve in Boston. Why? Some aspects of a baseball player are not quantifiable. A player's pysche and ability to cope with an intense fan base and intense media scrutiny cannot be found on a statistical chart.
Teaching is very much the same way. While data collection and data analysis can inform us about the effectiveness of a teacher, it cannot account for the intangibles. In this profession, a teacher's outcomes are affected by the students entering the classroom. The students bring with them obstacles that are outside the control of the teacher. Reformists need to accept this before teachers are willing to listen.
Ultimately, as it usually is, the answer lies in the middle of the two camps. Changes need to happen, we must admit this truth. But speaking in absolutes will rarely bring the change that is actually needed.


At 11:20 AM , Blogger bun2bon said...

Perhaps Matt Damon should have finished his sentence with something like, "You might be a shitty cameraman, I don't know, I'm not an expert in cameras. There might be shitty teachers out there, but let the experts in teaching decide that, rather than any old lay-person."

At 3:29 AM , Anonymous How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath said...

wow, your philosophy of teaching is really mesmerizing.. i hope so many people will be like you ... teaching for the sake of teaching... may your contribution will be rewarded with a great achievement of your student... thank you sir...


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