Sunday, August 30, 2009

chasing idealism

So... I'm thinking of not teaching any more.

I went into this job with high ideals that I haven't lost. Some of those ideals I understand are unreasonable. For instance, I understand that education is not exempt from the world of economics, even though I truly believe that money turns all good intentions bad. But that's not what I'm talking about. There are other ideals which are being compromised and I don't know that I can, philosophically speaking, continue down this path.

I honestly think

- We are making a big mistake from following ANY educational incentives that have originated in the US. ESPECIALLY those that have shown to be a waste of time and energy such as 'teach for America' - which coincidentally we are invoking here soon. Australia already has higher levels of literacy and numeracy than the US. They should be looking to us for the answers (not the other way round), WE should be looking to Finland who has shown to have one of the best educational systems in the world. Why aren't we? Well I think the general consensus is that teachers are treated like professionals and there is an emphasis on family responsibility in education too. Their tax system supports things like health care, child care and education - which feeds into their system of teaching and education in general. If we look to them then that assumes we are willing to change the way we live and function - that we feel that education is important. It's just easier to look at cost cutting measures that come out of the US and don't do a damn of good instead but look flashy to voters and parents who actually have no idea what really goes on inside a classroom.

- I really think that every single "new program" that I've seen introduced over the last 8 years has actually been detrimental to student learning.

- Private education does not need any more money pumped into it. End. Of. Story.

- I do more assessment on my 5 years olds now than I had done on me when I was IN YEAR 12. This is NOT an exaggeration. It's not needed. I don't understand on what planet that MORE assessment actually improves learning, especially when it comes at the expense of actually being able to teach the curriculum.

- new incentives come in. Teachers are asked to make time for them by "working smarter" which I think we can all agree is just a euphemism for 'we have no answers as to how you're going to do this, and we don't want to know how you're going to do it. Just get it done'.

- Parents are INSANE and I've seen less and less opposition to the crazy demands as the years go on. I can only imagine what will happen in 5 years.

- League tables to rank schools is the worst idea I've ever heard. Data proves nothing - and yet with this new development that's all we're going to be producing, schools will be run and exist only on data.

- Performance pay for teachers is BULLSHIT. We're not talking thousands and thousands of dollars for the extra work you do. We're talking - taking on major leading positions for an extra ONE thousand dollars. It's a load of shit. Pay teachers are real salary instead! God knows you ask enough of us - you want my liver?

And so I'm left in the unenviable position of knowing I'm a good teacher but knowing that being a good teacher has little to do with teaching. Either I leave or I try to change things. I don't know what to do.

Have you ever had your ideals completely challenged? What did you do?

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