Sunday, 18 December 2016

Blame the curriculum

"People who emphasize teaching quality and the central importance of teachers are right to do so. Where some go wrong is in thinking that teacher quality is an innate characteristic. The effectiveness of a teacher is not some inherent competence, as the phrase teacher quality suggests. Teacher effectiveness is contextual. I have witnessed over and over that in a coherent school most teachers can become highly effective..."

"It's true that in the United States, there has been a deep problem with teacher preparation for more than half a century. We have a system that, according to teachers themselves, does not prepare them adequately for classroom management or the substance of what they must teach. Therefore, my counterthesis to the blame-the-teachers theme is blame the ideasand improve them."

"The `quality` of a teacher is not a permanent given. Within the American primary school, where curriculum is neither coherent nor cumulative, it is impossible for a superb teacher to be as effective as a merely average teacher is in Japan, where the elementary school content is coherent and cumulative. For one thing, the American teacher has to deal with big discrepancies in student academic preparation, while the Japanese teacher does not. In a system with a specific and coherent curriculum, the work of each teacher builds on the work of teachers who came before. The three Cscooperation, coherence, and cumulativenessyield a bigger boost than the most brilliant efforts of teachers working individually against the odds within a topic-incoherent system. A more coherent system makes teachers better individually and hugely better collectively."

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