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Frank Mahony: The Teaching Debate


Frank Mahony

Frank Mahony

The Teaching Debate

3/6/2009   Comment on This

Geoff got into a friendly debate during last Sunday’s show with Amy’s guest - a teacher and author. In speaking with him and based on Amy’s recounting of his good influences on her education, he seemed to be the type of dedicated teacher you hope for.

The debatable issue was when Geoff made the broad generalization that most teachers he’s encountered teach the smart kids and don’t bother with the kids who need special attention. Our teacher/guest countered that the teachers he’s worked with over the years were very dedicated and did extend themselves to help all the kids.

Even if both of them were being 100% honest about their own experiences, neither of them can be correct about the teaching profession in general. I strongly believe in education, but like any other business or profession - how can everyone in the school be either “terrible” or “the best?” Think of any business, sports team, government or other type of organization where everyone’s work, value and performance are equal. Inevitably, some individuals are great, some are good and some are bad.

The question is: what evaluation systems are used and what happens when someone falls below an acceptable performance level.

In the business world, you frequently see family members and/or good old boys promoted to jobs they do poorly because they have “protection” and their inability is never debated. In a well run organization, this doesn’t happen. Everyone’s value is regularly reviewed for effectiveness and only those categorized as valuable are allowed to stay. Within those who stay, there is great variance between the best and the least productive. The people towards the bottom know they’re “on the bubble” and need to improve or their days are numbered.

If the management isn’t willing (or able) to evaluate and take action – long standing employees can become complacent and ineffective. Even worse, the entire structure of an organization (or institution) can become complacent and ineffective with a lack of motivation to be the best.

People who have worked and thrived in competitive Business Darwinism get annoyed by concepts like permanent employment (tenure) and wonder why everyone doesn’t need to demonstrate their value in comparison to other possible applicants year after year.

If you’re good at what you do, you have nothing to worry about – right?

Agree? Disagree? - Tell me why.

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