Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Military vs Education

The soldier in the field merely obeys orders, so when someone suggests that teachers "police their own," what that person fails to realize is that, to match the military, this would have to be done from the top down—not on a peer level. To that end, administrators would be "policing" teachers (as they already do), getting rid of all the bad apples and, as per the speaker's wishes, rewarding the good ones.

First of all, this already happens. Teachers who are deemed to be failing are put on improvement plans, have contracts that do not renew, or are given the dregs of the student body, the worst classrooms, terrible schedules. Occasionally, they are even fired. The good ones are rewarded with more planning periods, higher pay and stipends, better students, and smaller class sizes. The problem? The process is political, as with many things. There are good and bad teachers who get "rewarded." There are good and bad teachers stuck in the "dungeon" with the large class sizes and poor ventilation.

We haven't managed to fix the political system, so I'm not sure how we're supposed to use political power to fix the politics that go on in the education system, but—let's try it anyway! The ideas floating around now involve monetary rewards for high-performing teachers (and schools) and consequences for the "failing" ones.

I'd like to think about how that would play out in the military. Imagine the soldier who is paid based on the number of bad guys he shoots. Doesn't really seem like a good measure of success, does it?

But since teachers can't shoot their students, this isn't a fair comparison. Students aren't even the enemy, someone will point out. Of course, not everyone who gets killed in a military conflict is the enemy, either, but I digress. The "bad guys" are the OBJECT of the soldier's work as students are the OBJECT of the teacher's work. Teachers aren't allowed to defend themselves on any level, or they're out of a job.

So imagine soldiers being sent into a war without equipment, and the measure of their success is how much they change the hearts and minds of the opposition they encounter. Based on THAT, their pay, performance, and job stability are determined.

It's actually a good idea, if you think about it. A Ghandi-vision of world peace.

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