Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bureaucratizing the teaching profession

A rise in cheating on Ontario’s province-wide tests in reading, writing, and math has, we are assured, prompted action by the province’s Education Quality and Accountability Office. Click here:

The action? A checklist for teachers will be distributed by the Office. It will clarify, amazingly, whether a calculator is allowed to be used during a math test and whether teachers will be able to provide dictionaries during tests. An official explained that it will make the rules clearer and more explicit and, thereby, give teachers fewer excuses to say they were not aware of the rules.

Isn’t something very wrong here? The famous US army manual once assumed that the typical draftee couldn’t tie their shoelaces. Do the administrators of Ontario’s school system now believe that the teaching profession is incapable of administering an honest test without being told how to be honest? Or do they simply assume that teachers are working to rule?

Maybe there is nothing effective that can be done—at least immediately. However, this incident is a wake-up call. Teachers, like surgeons, work in organizations, but they are not supposed to be bureaucrats. A surgeon doesn’t need a government manual to remember to keep his hands clean. Surely, professional standards should also assure us that teachers know how, and are dedicated, to getting clean results on student tests. 

Otherwise, how can we believe that good test results represent rising standards in public education? Along with a growing list of misdemeanours in our society, “zero tolerance” for cheating ought to be considered for the teaching profession.

No comments:

Post a Comment