"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, October 17, 2013

First In-School Reform? Teacher Autonomy

The reform agenda has focused almost entirely on in-school only so-called reforms.

That paradigm is essentially flawed since the greatest barriers to in-school learning by students and effective teaching by teachers are out-of-school poverty and inequity.

However, once we address social reform, in-school reform must begin with teacher autonomy; consider this about Finland:

Teachers in Finland – trusted professionals
Finnish teachers have a lot of professional freedom and opportunities to influence their work and the development of their schools. They decide on the teaching methods, the teaching materials used as well as pupil and student assessment, often in cooperation with other teachers. Most teachers also participate in joint decision-making, drawing up of local curricula as well as acquisitions.  
Finnish teachers can also influence the development of education at national level. Teachers are generally represented in the expert groups preparing education reform and new initiatives. The teachers’ trade union, which represents 95 per cent of Finnish teachers, is also one of the most important stakeholders who contribute to the development of education and training. 
Teachers are not evaluated through external or formal measures. The principals of the institutions are also pedagogical heads and thus the quality of teaching is their responsibility. In many schools principals and teachers conduct so called development talks annually, where they discuss the past year and the objectives for the coming year. 

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