I'm not sure everyone would agree with that evaluation that low pay for
teachers is the main problem.
First of all, there is a problem with the author's comparison of soldiers to
teachers. He says we don't blame soldiers, we support them, but we do blame
teachers. I think the soldier's task is more clear cut. "Take that hill!"
"Capture that position!" I mean, what if the soldiers' task was: "Win the
war!" I'm sure if the war wasn't "won" we'd find some reason to blame them.
Whereas in many cases, teachers' tasks are more nebulous. They are left to
their own devices and, until recently, without required measurable outcomes.
Teachers have a powerful union and we can't say that the union has always
acted in the best interest of students. What if soldiers had a powerful
union like teachers did?
An Associated Press article says:
"The gap between the highest performing countries and the United States is
stark - students in Shanghai, for example, had an average score of 556
points in reading, 56 points higher than the 500-point average reached by
United States students. Shanghai students also posted the highest score in
math, with an average of 600 points, 113 points higher than the U.S.
Why did the authors of the NY Times article not suggest studying how
Shanghai teachers do it? Are Shanghai teachers so highly paid?
The Associated Press article continues:
"The United States spends more per student, on average, than other
countries. In the 2009 PISA study, only Luxembourg spent more. The report
notes that countries like Estonia and Poland perform at about the same level
as the United States, while spending less than half the amount per student."
And today we are watching and, especially WebHeads, are participating in,
the commoditization of education. As Bill Gates said, the best education
will be on the Net by 2015.
What is the trend? The trend is not going in the direction of more personal
feely touchy attention from teachers, more one-on-one, smaller class sizes,
etc. I know we all have passionate feelings about the importance of the
personal touch from the teacher. But WebHeads are working towards a more
technological touch to teaching. The tools developed and explored by
WebHeads allow more distant teaching. They allow mass teaching.
Admittedly, in the best form this is a sort of "mass customization" which is
better than the "education factory" approach. It can allow for
"differentiated instruction" which may be more useful than the traditional
I don't see any government in the world saying, "Oh yeah, we need to pay
teachers more money. Let's jack up their salaries." The fact is, good or
bad, things are not going in that direction.
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