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Adding To or Reducing the Teacher's Burden

Posted By: Dick Schutz on November 29, 2005
Lagemann rightfully points out that the buck starts and stops with classroom teachers and that “preparation for certification” and “professional development" are feckless endeavors.” But rather than advocating reducing the load on teachers she proposes essentially the same role but with a greater burden of pre-prep and concurrent course work.

The pie-in-the-sky restructuring of higher education that Lagemann sketches is wishful at best. Think of the tenured professors, the turf rights, and the institutional competition involved. Better yet, think of how the fulfillment of the teacher’s role can be eased rather than complicated.

Whether the purveyors of instructional resources (test and text publishers) that teachers rely on can be shaped up. Neither the will nor the way appears to be present to do that. But within a 5-10 year time-frame the technologies of interactive voice recognition, broadband communication, and miniaturization will come together to reliably and effectively deliver the academic instruction that teachers are currently struggling to provide. This enablement will render current discourse re “roles,” “choice,” and “reform” child’s play. “Education” will no longer be place sensitive.

Automation of the great bulk of “record keeping” that now occupies a good deal of teachers’ time can help ease the burden.

The kind of support that Lagemann advocates to “keep current” can be provided “on demand” and “as needed” by emulating the practices of technical service centers. The kinds of question that teachers ask can inform the research that needs to be performed and the general “dissemination” of information that teachers would likely look kindly on.

The functions that Lagemann describes as the “teacher’s job description” could be more productively handled via differential staffing that would entail differential pay schedules.

These initiatives don’t begin to subsume the “fixes” that are currently within the state-of-the-art to restructure the teacher’s role But they are sufficient “proof of concept that such restructuring is tractable and is amenable to time-and-cost planning and implementation.

Dick Schutz
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 Adding To or Reducing the Teacher's Burden by Dick Schutz on November 29, 2005
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