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Those who can't do, teach; those who can't teach, run the schools.

Education | How to be top | Economist.com
What works in education: the lessons according to McKinsey

THE British government, says Sir Michael Barber, once an adviser to the former prime minister, Tony Blair, has changed pretty much every aspect of education policy in England and Wales, often more than once. “The funding of schools, the governance of schools, curriculum standards, assessment and testing, the role of local government, the role of national government, the range and nature of national agencies, schools admissions”—you name it, it's been changed and sometimes changed back. The only thing that hasn't changed has been the outcome. According to the National Foundation for Education Research, there had been (until recently) no measurable improvement in the standards of literacy and numeracy in primary schools for 50 years...
...
Why bother, you might wonder. Nothing seems to matter. Yet something must. There are big variations in educational standards between countries. These have been measured and re-measured by the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which has established, first, that the best performing countries do much better than the worst and, second, that the same countries head such league tables again and again: Canada, Finland, Japan, Singapore, South Korea.
...
Schools, it says*, need to do three things: get the best teachers; get the best out of teachers; and step in when pupils start to lag behind. That may not sound exactly “first-of-its-kind” (which is how Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's head of education research, describes McKinsey's approach): schools surely do all this already? Actually, they don't. If these ideas were really taken seriously, they would change education radically....

The quality of teachers affects student performance more than anything else.

A bias against the brightest (teacher trainees) happens partly because of lack of money (governments fear they cannot afford them), and partly because other aims get in the way. Almost every rich country has sought to reduce class size lately. Yet all other things being equal, smaller classes mean more teachers for the same pot of money, producing lower salaries and lower professional status. That may explain the paradox that, after primary school, there seems little or no relationship between class size and educational achievement.

...You might think that schools should offer as much money as possible, seek to attract a large pool of applicants into teacher training and then pick the best. Not so, says McKinsey. If money were so important, then countries with the highest teacher salaries—Germany, Spain and Switzerland—would presumably be among the best. They aren't. In practice, the top performers pay no more than average salaries.....
....Having got good people, there is a temptation to shove them into classrooms and let them get on with it. For understandable reasons, teachers rarely get much training in their own classrooms (in contrast, doctors do a lot of training in hospital wards). But successful countries can still do much to overcome the difficulty....

Lastly, the most successful countries are distinctive not just in whom they employ so things go right but in what they do when things go wrong, as they always do. For the past few years, almost all countries have begun to focus more attention on testing, the commonest way to check if standards are falling. McKinsey's research is neutral on the usefulness of this, pointing out that while Boston tests every student every year, Finland has largely dispensed with national examinations. Similarly, schools in New Zealand and England and Wales are tested every three or four years and the results published, whereas top-of-the-class Finland has no formal review and keeps the results of informal audits confidential.

But there is a pattern in what countries do once pupils and schools start to fail. The top performers intervene early and often. ...

None of this is rocket science. Yet it goes against some of the unspoken assumptions of education policy.

Comments

You headline "Those who can't do, teach; those who can't teach, run the schools."

Tim, it is MUCH worse than that. Here :

BUREAUCRATIC PECKING ORDER

Those who can peck,
Peck.

Those who can't peck,
Teach pecking.

Those who can't teach pecking,
Administer the teaching of pecking.

Those who can't admininster the teaching of pecking,
Regulate the administration of the teaching of pecking.

Those who can't regulate the administration of the teaching of pecking,
Advocate at the bar, for or against the regulation of the administration
of the teaching of pecking.

Those who can't advocate at the bar, for or against the
regulation of the administration of the teaching of pecking,
Legislate about advocating for or against the regulation of the
administration of the teaching of pecking.

And this whole house of cards, legislation about advocating for
or against the regulation of the administration of the teaching of pecking,
Is all paid for only by those who can and do peck :

Noting the fat of the cat at the tip of the top -
(Or indeed the flats of the cats at the tops of the tips) -
Declining to support further, such unedifying edifices -

Their resources taxed beyond endurance -
Failing to keep their peckers up -
Drooping -
Wilting -
They simply cease to
Peck.

Alan McAlpine Douglas

PS Happy Anniversary to Ali and yourself !

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