How things have changed

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Some things can easily be measured quantitatively, and some things cannot. In baseball, for instance, without a doubt, three strikes and you are out.

However the strikes and balls thrown at a batter are subjectively determined by an umpire. The umpire is trained and experienced to judge a strike from a ball thrown by the pitcher based on a somewhat specified, but not exactly defined perimeter boundary.

In previous years, the procedure for classroom teacher evaluation was based on the supervision of a trained experienced supervisor who was either a principal, assistant principal or department chairman. These people were part of a school’s administration. It was his (or her) main function to oversee the teachers under his (or her) jurisdiction as to effectiveness and suitability, by periodically observing a teacher teaching. To help the teacher grow in effectiveness there were post observation meetings where the supervisor pointed out strengths and weaknesses in the teacher’s performance.

As the drive to make education more like the business world increased, supervisors were burdened with more and more responsibility and paperwork aimed at measuring students and teachers quantitatively, rather than qualitatively.

I can’t help thinking how a recent Dilbert cartoon (unknowingly) portrayed the evolution of the educational dilemma we are presently seeing in our schools. The manager (read supervisor) approaches his worker (read teacher) and says “How’s your creativity coming along?” The worker grudgingly says, “I don’t have any. Your management style makes me focus all of my energy on staying out of trouble.”

Translated to today’s classrooms, teachers are induced to teach towards the (so called) standardized exams. Creativity is a thing of the past! Great amounts of time and effort are devoted by almost all parties involved to look good on the outcome of test results. Manipulating, even cheating, is not unheard of to try and achieve the ends of the very questionable means in place.

Years ago you were taught by the teacher.  Either you did your homework and your class work and interacted positively with the teacher, and got good grades, or you didn’t and you received a poor mark, maybe even a failing one.



Dave Shlakman

Howard Beach