In the following scan of news and views on issues related to educational policy streaming across our screens over the past week, Thomas Hatch notes a number of links to protests and demonstrations, inter-continental educational alliances, teacher status and concerns about teacher training and “quality.”
News stories on educational policy have again demonstrated that debates over education – particularly around funding, access, and teachers’ unions – are often a source of protests. Most recently, those protests have included school takeovers in Argentina and Greece and riots in Brazil and Mexico City.
“Globalization” of education
Reports have also highlighted “cross-over” in education systems as South Koreans are going to China for schooling, China is providing funding to support teacher education in Africa, Japan is working on education in Myanmar, and the “Finnish model” is being imported into some parts of India and Indonesia.
International Comparisons (teachers’ status)
In one of the most recent international comparisons, the Varkey GEMS Foundation compared 21 countries through their Global Teacher Status Index. While there are of course challenges to developing any index like this, some interesting contradictions emerged: respondents seem to trust teachers in many countries, though when asked questions related to respect and status responses varied considerably; perceptions of what teachers are paid are often inaccurate (estimates too high in some countries and too low in others); but in almost all of the countries surveyed, respondents felt teachers should be paid more; and while respondents in countries like the US and Japan thought that unions should have less influence, those in the UK and in many European countries thought unions should have more influence.
Also, see a blog by Marc Tucker and commentary from Tucker, Linda Darling Hammond, and John Jackson for a comparison of test-based approaches to improvement in the US to what they see as multi-pronged approaches in higher-performing countries.
Teachers, teaching, and teacher quality
Efforts to improve education through the recruitment and allocation of “higher quality” teachers were in the news in an initiative to staff schools in rural China, and in an IEN interview with, Geoff Whitty, former Director of the Institute of Education (IoE) in London, who laid out some of the key developments in the marketization of teacher education in England. The current Director of the IoE, Chris Husbands also reflected on the critical distinction between strategies that focus on teacher quality and teaching quality. The importance of a focus on practice inside the classroom and out was also evident in a series of blogs from Education Week in the US drawn from the contributors to Leading Educational Change: Global Issues, Challenges, and Lessons on Whole-System Reform (Teachers College Press, 2013) edited by Helen Janc Malone.
Taken together, these stories about status, teacher recruitment, and teaching practice illustrate different ways of framing the challenges of education: as a cultural issue, a human resource issue, and as an issue of the capacity for powerful instruction. To what extent is it possible to take into account multiple ways of framing the problems at the same time?