By contrast, as Johnson describes so well, the more intense the pressure gets, the worse we teach.
When I had administrators breathing down my neck, the students became a secondary concern. I simply did whatever my assistant principal asked me to do, even when I thought his ideas were crazy. In all honesty, my teaching probably became close to incoherent.
Administrators should learn how to evaluate teachers fairly and expertly, which does not mean making teachers so scared that they can barely function.
Johnson finishes his article by saying that until we provide equal educational resources to all students and teachers, we can’t say how well or how poorly they are performing.
Which brings me back to Ravitch’s essay, in which she moves into the Finnish education system, one of the highest-performing school systems in the world, and shows how it is the complete opposite of what we have in the U.S.
* Teacher education programs are highly competitive and only one in every ten applicants is accepted;
* Students take no standardized tests until the end of high school;
* Students have fifteen-minute recesses between classes;
* Compulsory education begins at age seven.
In short, the aim of Finnish education is the development of each child as a thinking, active, creative person, and not the attainment of higher test scores. And one way the Finns achieve this goal is, as Johnson would like to see in the U.S., by providing equal educational resources to all teachers.
The thrills of teaching come in the moments of truly reaching students, seeing the light bulb go on, exciting and pushing them to make new discoveries. Having my students make higher scores on standardized tests has never been my goal.
Photo Credit: istock
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