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Life Skills Support Teacher

I've been down this road

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I've been down this road before with discussions in classroom management classes. Inevitably, Alfie Kohn's name pops up along with his theories about rewards, employee pay, etc. He clearly suggests that money corrupts the quality of work and that it robs workers of intrinsic motivation.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with extrinsic motivation. As long as the job gets done and done well, who the heck cares where the motivation comes from?

Also, the last I checked, Alfie Kohn lives in very comfortable home in Brookline, MA, (a very expensive place to live, I might add) so he naturally accepted ample compensation for his own work without questions asked.

That's a contradiction my classroom management professor could not explain. It's the same thing with those who make arguments against the capitalist system but who live in multimillion dollar homes. It's the same thing with those who prattle on about global warming while constantly flying around the world in fuel sucking and exhaust emitting jet airplanes just to make speeches.

As usual, this is type of advocacy that rubs against basic human instinct and common sense is rife with hypocrisy.

The rewards argument is no different. Our whole society is built on being rewarded for effort. We don't work for charity. As Ayn Rand so aptly stated: "work without compensation is akin to slavery."

So why should we expect kids to be raised under a different value system compared to the one they'll be exposed to beyond the classroom (i. e. "the real world")?

Any suggestion that professionals should only earn up to certain limits (no bonuses for performance) just smacks of socialism.

Prematurely retired high school English teacher because of blindness (legal

I Get Confused Here.

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More and more, this discussion turns into a laundry list of tried methods of evaluating teachers and usually decides they do not or have not worked. In between the paragraphs "learning" by students is mentioned, especially as the real goal of teaching. But then seems to be dropped.
What is the issue? Is it teacher evaluation? Is it student evaluation? Is it test scores? What?
Dr. Corwin touched the primary button but only quickly and not in depth. He is absolutely right. Politics doesn't just infiltrate education; it defines learning, teaching, and the financial structure of education. Standardized testing is mandated as an inextricable connect to educational funding and therefore is a powerful, de facto element that determines and defines education, learning, and teaching.
Teachers may be consulted, but usually not and if they are its disregarded behind closed doors, about learning. Politicians define learning as concrete numbers. Teachers define learning in abstract concepts that not all students acquire at the same time. School Boards and administrators define learning in business practice terms. Consequently learning is about oranges for politicians, bananas for administration, and apples for teachers. Its no wonder we are in gridlock.
Learning is not a linear process as politicians and administrators would have it. It is recursive, stumbling at times, mysterious, social, and individualistic. Politicians want it to be repetitive, programable for time and content, and most dangerous of all - devoid of problem solving, critical thinking, and elevated social consciousness.
Politicians believe change comes from control, confusing information with learning, want employment to be citizenship, and assumes breadth is depth. They are wrong each time.
Change does not come from control. Look at athletes, testing gets more rigorous and accurate but athletes don't stop using performance enhancing substances. They find better ways to hide it.Perhaps the scariest example is the "false positive" blood test for HIV. Imagine coming home some night and your wife tells you the clinic called and your AIDS test came back "false positive". Politicians assume "employment' equals citizenship. Of course this assumption is wrong. With unemployment comes a rise in social disruption. But the problem is really "voluntary compliance" Voluntary compliance is the essence of citizenship. In fact without it there will be no democracy. The main reason standardize tests don't work is because they are primarily about information. And even further, the information is slanted towards an all white world. They (tests) cannot and will not show that our children are learners. Politicians are afraid that unless a wide-ranging avademic program is maintained students will miss too much. Futurists tell us we are in the information age and that the total information that exists doubles every 9 months. That makes some information ( a lot really) obsolete before the school year is done. How can a teacher keep up with this? But what happens when a student becomes engaged with an idea or topic? In depth study requires students to use and discover thinking powers. problem-solving techniques, application of reading, writing, and usually speaking skills, the process and value of research, and the need for analysis, record keeping, and computations.
As long as politicians and economists are in control of the definitions of teaching and learningm and that teachers hold their ground on learning, and administrations see education as a business, the gridlock of "teacher pay and teacher evaluation, will not go away, Teachers will have to take back ownership of education and definition of learning before real change and improvement is seen.

Host and Co-Creator of Virtual Science University

Let's Give All Teachers More Pay!!!

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Excellent Post! We as a nation and especially the state of Texas where I live need to wake up and smell the coffee! STAAR and TAKS in Texas only leads to diluted instruction. Right now, Texas is taking approximately 44 days out of the 187 days of instruction for the purpose of preparing for STAAR and TAKS. This is absolute nonsense! If we hired the best teachers like Japan and pay all of them more, we would not have to be doing all this testing. LET'S PAY ALL TEACHERS MORE AND HIRE THE BEST TEACHERS!

Bonuses are not the best way to improve teacher effectiveness.

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The way to improve teaching is by addressing many of the problems you listed. Teachers should be given more hands-on clinical training with master teachers before being given their own classroom so that they enter the solo classroom feeling prepared. Professional Learning Communities should be established where teachers are given time to co-plan and observe each other both to learn new teaching strategies and to provide feedback in a friendly way. Professional Development should be provided on how to use PLCs to analyze student data and to restructure teaching practices based on that data. Peer Evaluators should come out of the supportive environment of the PLC. Principals should be responsible for creating a positive environment among teachers, and principals should be evaluated on that environment. As you said, principals are very busy so they need to spend their time creating an environment where teachers put aside their personal feelings and work together for the best interest of their students. This can happen if we change evaluations from a grading system into a learning tool where teachers can work with colleagues and administrators to set goals, receive feedback, reflect on that feedback, and be directed toward professional development that will help teachers reach their goals. These ideas on teacher evaluations, principal evaluations, and teacher training come from policy reports written by VIVA teachers. Their full reports can be found here:

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