As I pen down my thoughts tonight, I am thinking of one particular issue related to education. One of the things I realise that is happening is the culture of mediocrity taking place in our education system; in schools to be exact. It's o.k. not to be punctual, it's o.k not to prepare a reliable and valid examination paper, it's o.k. not to be well-prepared for one's class, it's o.k. to miss meetings without a good reason, it's o.k. to write something else in your lesson plan and teach something else, the list goes on. This is one possible scenario in one school. What about thousands others? So many things are O.K. in school really, it's O.K. to get away with so many things. I call this O.K.ism.
Just how does the principal watch over its 70 odd staff for example? How does he ensure every teacher gives his or her best? It's all based on trust and that is dangerous. Teaching can be elusive- we can pass a month without doing anything serious for our students and still get our paycheck at the end of the month! That's how elusive teaching is. Strangely, we have many systems in place to check the rot but the data we gather from these systems is not utilised effectively. For instance, we have clinical observation in school but how much of the data informs the remedial actions to be taken to improve teaching post observation? They are but routine programmes that have to be carried out for the sake of documentation. How many under-performing teachers (based on their evaluation marks) have been called for some sort of professional advice or counseling? Hardly ever. This could happen due to the fact that teachers already possess a teaching certificate that qualifies them to teach and also the fact that a teacher can hold on to his tenure till he retires without having to sit for continuous appraisals to check on his competency. Yes, the annual appraisal is present but it does not evaluate competence in teaching. Rather it is a broad-based instrument that measures leadership qualities etc. This is disturbing since we are in the business of shaping minds and building character with nation-building, to borrow a buzzword, as the end product.
What about a teacher's current performance? Never mind if he obtained his license to teach five, ten or twenty years ago but is he still competent today? How does the school make sure teachers stay motivated and competent after many years in the business? Teaching is one profession that is different from the rest. It's not enough to recruit the best teachers but we need to support them with a solid continuous professional development (CPD) plan more so with the onslaught of transformation programmes handed over to them. It's time for schools to take teacher competency seriously.
Stop breeding this culture of O.k.ism in schools. It is not O.K.
“The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.”
(William Arthur Ward)
Those who can Do Those who can do more TEACH