Hijacking the quality teaching movement

There’s a lot I agree with in Stephen Dinham’s article in the latest Professional Educator on the directions the quality teaching movement is taking in Australia.

It’s worth reading in full but in essence he argues that the quality teaching movement has had its agenda shaped (been hijacked) in these ways:

  • That the initially pleasing emphasis on quality teaching and its importance, emphasised in Australia by Hattie and others, has not led to further investment in teaching and teacher learning but instead that ‘teachers are now being see as our biggest problems when students fail to learn’.
  • This  has led to a simplistic top-down responses such as ‘sack the bottom 5% of teachers’
  • The work of John Hattie has been ‘particularly misrepresented and misused as a blunt instrument to attack teachers’
  • The work of Hattie and others on ‘direct instruction’ has been misconstrued as advocating ‘didactic, traditional, teacher-centered approaches rather than its intended meaning of teaching having clear intentions of what they are trying to achieve with every student’.
  • The role of professional standards has been twisted to be more about judging and dismissing teacher than recognising and developing them.
  • A fixation with Finland, Shanghai and South Korea represents the ‘worst form of cultural cringe’.

I pretty much agree with all of this, and the emphasis on testing and testing that supposedly drives the data collection teachers are judged by. I saw it in the USA a couple of years ago, at the ASCD Conference, where the cover story in Newsweek that week was called ‘We Must Sack Bad Teachers.’ Unfortunately we’ve, sometimes deliberately and consciously as in the NY model, begun to import much of the bad American practice that is driving a chronically under-performing system there.  Ironic, that we don’t import the practice from the systems we purport to admire (see previous posts on how Finland really works).