Over the years, we have seen many good and not-so-good teachers. Frankly, students lag behind for various reasons but I must say mediocre teaching definitely plays a role. It’s time to help those teachers.
There are two proven education systems that are known to produce excellent students. First is the pressure-cooker model where South Korea and China are the leaders. Students, parents and educators focus only on one end goal – high marks. Creative thinking is often stifled because it doesn’t fit the end-goal. South Korea, in an attempt to cool off studying pressure, sends police to shut down tutoring centres at 10pm. I don’t think it’s a model we should look up to. The second category, namely Norway and Sweden, are doing the polar opposite; rather than focusing on the education output (i.e. marks), they focus on inputs (i.e. teacher). In Norway, for instance, only the best students are allowed to become teachers, much like engineering, business and medical school students in Canada. Effectively, they produce world-class students excelling in math, science and technology with independent and creative thinking.
I’m not here to insult Alberta’s teachers. As a professor, I know teaching is hard work. But there is no excuse for mediocrity. Working hard does not necessary produce good, or even acceptable work.
I don’t think we can switch to the Norway model overnight. Given the current establishment, teacher evaluations can be used intelligently to advance eduction inputs. The fact that the evaluation itself is a credible threat, could be proven valuable in helping the lagging teachers to be retrained and reeducated. We have seen a fair share of ineffective teachers; teaching materials are confusing, assignment questions badly worded and worst of all, simple arithmetics are incorrectly taught. On the other hand, to attract the brightest into the field, we must reward those with excellent teaching record. Evaluation is and should be one of the many ways to identify good teachers. And good teachers must be rewarded accordingly. Rewards need not be monetary.
By allowing teachers not to be hold accountable like regular folks, we truly accept mediocrity.
I’m all for regular competency review for teachers.