Follow up to Teaching to a Test

I wrote this as a response to a peer who asked a few questions to gain further clarity on the reflection I wrote on Teaching to a Test.  She responded:

  • How do we make sure our doctors know what they are doing before they open my chest cavity to perform surgery? Can we request a team of doctors to work on me? Wouldn't that be more innovative and utilize the best talents from each surgeon?

  • How should the state and federal government measure teachers? I agree that standardized testing of children is flawed, but what is a viable solution?

  • And how do we shop for a good lawyer?

As far as doctors go, there are shifts/rifts/movements/changes in the medical world (despite the woes of insurance companies) about how we see and experience medicine as a field and how doctors should/should not "be" with their patients.  I (of course) don't remember now what it was I was reading/watching, but medicine used to be about how much information do I know - and it is (finally) shifting to a more holistic, healer-like position.

So, directly answering your question, if a doctor is going to open up my chest to knock on the old clicker, then I do want him to have a certain amount of knowledge about the human body and how it works.  But I also want her to be the one who meets with me before and after, to answer my questions, to be present to me as a patient, to help me heal.

I think it would be lovely if doctors worked as a team.  Think about if we organized doctors offices as if they were middle school subject teams - "Okay, you have the neurology, I'll take the endocrinology,..." - how interesting would that be!  And how well might we all be taken care of.

Now... as to measuring teachers... I have a few follow up questions that might further the conversation...

  • Who benefits by measuring teachers?

  • Who gets to measure the teachers?

  • Why should state/federal government get to measure teachers?

  • How do we measure teachers?

  • Are there better/worse ways to measure teachers?

  • What is gained in measuring teachers?

We have in our culture this fascination... obsession... I'll even go so far as to call it a fetish or addiction... to measurement and measuring things.  And - to my understanding - there really are no bounds/truth to trying to measure human/social behavior/psychology/etc.

If - big if - we were able to develop a fool-proof (interesting words there) rubric to evaluate teachers, and the top "score" was five stars, what does that mean?  Is a five star teacher a five star teacher all the time?  Who came up with the number five anyway?  And why a star? It seems like trying to simplify an extremely complex situation... for no reason other than because that's what we think we need to do.

And - lawyers.  What a loaded question!  Beyond why it is interesting that we need so many lawyers - how do we find one?  I think we trust our gut and go talk to them!  Ask others, consult with friends/family, speak to prior clients and get their feedback.  That's where I'd start at least.

I want it differently too.  And I'm interested in exploring ways to move in that direction.


Originally posted on September 30, 2010 per the requirements of EAC 539: Teaching in the Online Environment at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.


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