In education, innovation is not rewarded, originality is frowned upon, and non conformists are failures. Teachers being evaluated on how well they conform to what the latest liberal philosopher deemed exceptional education is not really an exceptional incentive.
While hard work is a foreign concept to many teachers, others are all too familiar with the long nights and weekends spent with their heads in their planning books. The latter are willing to put in the thought, time, and effort to continuously enhance their craft and grow professionally, not just to aid their own progress, but to advance the quality and reputation of their school overall. These few teachers are the shoulders on which everyone leans yet do not recognize. They are lost in the smoke and shadows of tenured teachers who do little to stand out and don’t have to, leading to a mediocre establishment that’s going nowhere.
Why don’t they have to work as hard as these other devoted teachers? They get salary increases no matter what their performance. The arguments against tenure are nothing new. We already know that teachers who get tenure pretty much just show up for the day, sit in their classroom, and attend a few meetings always with the pleasant attitude of eye rolling and jaws dropped to floor when they hear what they are supposed to do but don’t do. Why don’t they do it? They don’t have to and they don’t really care.
I’m not writing about the lack of incentive due to tenure, rather the lack of incentive for non-tenured teachers. Some may say that tenure is its own incentive. But is the outlook of just sitting around figuring out how to best conform a real goal for young professionals, many of whom seek to make their hard work noteworthy and worthwhile?
Education needs to change. Not only does tenure need to be abolished, but young professionals need an incentive to make education a worthwhile investment for members of the community. You may be thinking that merit pay is the solution, and while that would help, it would not solve the problem. What would merit pay be based on? The same thing as tenure…conformity. The ability of the teacher to follow the leader instead of being the leader.
Where education needs to go is in the mindset of a business. Businesses value diversity of thought, originality, and innovation, not conformity. If teachers have the opportunity to use their hard work and take risks to create new approaches to education, maybe their willingness to work hard will change and maybe education itself will improve.
There are no risks in education because of three reasons: one, teachers are terrified to get a bad grade; two, there is no incentive to take these risks because there’s no pay off other than a pat on the back if your ideas are even liked; and third, administrators are the ultimate conformists and couldn’t recognize when someone is being original because all they’ll see is that you’ve strayed from the path of the leader and you better get back on it.
To think for ones self is to stray from the path of conformity which is secretly the key to success in education. In education the better you can follow the latest trend, the bigger the pat on the back. Now, isn’t a pat on the back what we all strive for?
Those tenured teachers will soon have a run for their money when originality is soon valued over conformity.