The ethics of insistence February 18, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in Literacy, Students.
The question arose yesterday about the ethics of insisting a teacher use a particular educational technology, an affordance of sorts, in the act of teaching. If we put educational technology to the side for a moment, are the parallel situations in education where an administrator insists on a particular teaching strategy?
I think elementary teachers would resoundingly agree that many principals have tried to insist on one reading program over another. Perhaps a principal might insist on basal readers or some sort of reading program, for example, and then evaluate the teachers based on how well they used the program. In the middle school, administrators might evaluate based upon adherence to an imposed lesson structure. For example, they might insist on seeing students start the lesson with a short question (bell work). They might later expect to see an example of guided practice, independent practice, closure, and the assignment of homework.
If the administrator or the district can prove those previously mentioned elements are essential elements of instruction and should appear in the majority of your lessons, then few would react that anyone is usurping their academic freedom to teach. Now, if I insist all teachers must have a web page for parental communication, or all students must type each day in a blog, or PowerPoint will be used for demonstrations, then I will expect some resistance. The tools mentioned are not always appropriate and I have not shown you how they can improve education.
However, if a teacher is demonstrating a concept using a white board and in the process is making sloppy or crude drawings, wiping information off the board as the lesson progresses, and using an excessive amount of instructional time to write a full set of notes on the board, then that teacher is doing an educational disservice to the students.
If a tool, such as PowerPoint, can improve the quality of the presentation with clear notes composed in advance and shared in meaningful chunks and topped off with engaging graphics and a degree of interactivity, then that teacher is using the technology to improve education just as much as the teacher who follows other essential elements of instruction. Good teachers will seek out best practices in teaching either with or without technology.