I started thinking about this post after a twitter post I made about a week ago. I have felt this way for quite some time as I have consistently run into bad teachers who never get called out for any number of reasons (union, friendships, professional courtesy, etc). But after reading a recent post by Aaron Eyler, the fire was fueled once again.
In order for change to happen, their will be disagreements. For some reason educators avoid these disagreements like the plague. We constantly hear phrases like “teaching style” or “that’s what works for me”, almost as though there is no consensus from education research regarding best practices and that teaching is a series of “guess and test” strategies to develop strong pedagogy. Don’t get me wrong, I believe many teachers have wasted 10 years using this strategy to build competent pedagogical understanding. I say wasted, because they could have built this knowledge much more quickly had they made the decision to actually read an education research article or two. Of course the ability to actually implement research based strategies may require years of practice, but that is another post. In my humble opinion (ok, it’s not so humble), teacher prep programs ought to more forcefully engage preservice teachers in locating and reading research to inform classroom practice. Anyway, back to my point.
When our rhetoric about teaching comes off as relativistic, we are not doing ourselves any favors. If teachers who teach in a manner not consistent with best practices are allowed to continue along their merry way, we bring down other teachers who are working hard to implement best practices. When “taking the easy way out” is not looked down upon, more teachers are tempted to follow that path. Even worse, our dialogue around the “easy” teaching might move from non-judgemental to positive. Essentially, allowing bad teaching is not far removed from encouraging bad teaching.
We have to stop playing nice, we need to speak up (loudly) in opposition to bad teaching and in favor of good teaching.