A Larry Cuban blog post from May 2012 that shines a light on those in the ed reform movement who confuse teacher quality with teaching quality, and the mistaken belief that teacher quality, alone, determines whether students learn successfully or not.
‘In short, “good” teaching is one of four necessary components to “good” learning. In making this mistake, policymakers unintentionally snooker the public by squishing together ”good” teaching and “successful” learning. In doing so, policymakers erase three critical factors that are equally important in getting students to learn: the student’s own effort, support of family and peers, and the opportunity to learn in school. ‘
As a result of inhabiting a different world than teachers, policymakers make a consequential error. They and a cadre of influentials confuse teacher quality with teaching quality, that is, the personal traits of teachers—dedicated, caring, gregarious, intellectually curious—produce student learning rather than the classroom and school settings. Both are important, of course, but policymakers and their influential camp followers have accentuated personal traits far more than the organizational and social context in which teachers teach daily. So if students score low on tests, then who the teachers are, their personal traits, credentials, and attitudes come under close scrutiny, rather than the age-graded school, neighborhood demography, workplace conditions, and resources that support teaching. The person overshadows the place.[i]
In attributing far more weight to individual teacher traits rather than seriously considering the situation in which teachers teach policymakers and civic and business leaders end up having a cramped…
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