Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why We Teach: the 50,000 ft view of accountability in education

This may just be a shorter or bigger picture rehash of the last blog. But it also might be important

In the last blog, I drew a distinction between the different ways of measuring efficiency when thinking about EDUCATIONAL technology. Namely that, since we don't produce widgets, it is difficult to use the usual "X widgets produced per Y man-hours" formula. I proposed that instead we focus on how much the technology contributed to building relationships between students and teachers.

Wow. That was short sighted.

This is not just about Educational Technology.

It is the heart of Catholic education. And maybe education as a whole...but i'm going to premise off the Catholic part.

Yesterday while eating lunch with Alan Mensel, religion teacher extraordinaire, and Michael Christiana, SJ we were discussing a the concept of the "the classroom as hallowed ground" (40ishoracle blogged about the inspiring article a few weeks ago). In that discussion, we started discussing the teachings of Jesus.

  • He never said "convert this many souls"
  • He never worried about the profit margin of the ministry
  • He never counted the sins

He asked people to love one another. And to love God. He told people to give to the poor and encourage those least fortunate among us. Jesus figured if we were to do all of those things, the whole "getting to heaven" things would take care of itself.

Flash forward a few thousand years.

In my last blog, I talked about those special teachers that we all remembered.

  • They didn't worry about solving 56 math problems in two minutes.
  • They didn't keep value-add averages of their students on high-stakes test scores
  • They didn't peg their evaluation rating and payscale to tests or grades

What great teachers did back then, and continue to do today, is cared about students and their education. They struggled to make a subject that they cared about come alive fore the students. They crafted lessons that would provide experiences that students could reflect upon and gain knowledge from. Those great teachers figured if they did all of those things, the whole "good test scores" thing would take care of itself.

In asking educators to take more time to pay attention to the numerical goals (test scores, college entrance rates, etc. -- which may or may not be a reflection of the ultimate goal), we are asking them to take away from the process of building relationships, caring for students, and creating amazing learning experiences...the very pathways that have to be opened to get us to the promised land.

This has been coming up in a lot of different venues. I think @40ishoracle is tackling some of this from a different perspective here. I would invite your comments and thoughts.

Note: let @40ishoracle know that not all of my blogs are 4pgs long.