An uber teaching profession

From 2018, every teacher working in NSW schools will have to understand and apply the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to their work. The Standards go towards helping to clarify and articulate what good learning and teaching looks like; what is consistently expected of all teachers and what it takes to become an exceptional teacher.

Like other sectors, the Standards are designed to enhance the profession both internally and externally.  While we can’t ignore the Standards, I wonder if they have been developed on an industrial set of assumptions?  When we negotiate with teacher unions, we always start from the same premise of linking salary to years of service. Whenever we talk about professional competency, we assume all teachers are the same at the same year of experience, just as we once assumed all learners were.

If there is evidence suggesting the personal qualities of teachers are extremely important and no two teachers are alike, then where does that take us?  What are the new assumptions and what would be at stake?

Schools and teachers are operating not only in a new age but in a new world order in which entrepreneurs and philanthropists are venturing into the business of schooling.  Look no further than inventor of SpaceX, PayPal, and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk who has set up an alternative school for his children after describing his own schooling experience as uninspiring and basically obsolete. Then there is Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy who has no formal teaching qualifications but created free online access to educational content. Khan has just opened a physical lab school to ‘pioneer new models of learning’.  Note that ‘teaching’ is missing from its vision statement. The new assumption at least for Khan is that teachers will play a supporting role now not a leading one. 

In this new world where disintermediation is disrupting just about everything, are we moving towards an uber teaching profession?  The real question is not whether Musk and Khan can deliver more relevant models of schooling and higher levels of student achievement but whether we can still assume a teacher is a teacher.

3 thoughts on “An uber teaching profession

  1. It is the most pedestrian, uninspiring, quotidian and parochial document ever written. I am really not happy about it, and having to be part of this (more and more) bureaucratic fiat. I challenged Adrian Piccoli on it in person. I don’t believe they have the support of “most” of the teachers – which is what he said. More tick boxes to fill out. As well, we are so myopic. If we are honest about wanting interdisciplinary learning we should invite other teachers/learners into our space – engineers, scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists etc.

    1. I couldn’t have put it better. I was asked to make comments today on the review of the HSC where I said stop controlling, standardising and routinising learning.

  2. I found it interesting in your blog which referenced disintermediation, I opened the link and some of the comments resonanated with me regarding disengagement. The rhetoric is often about learning, however, the amount of time spent in meeting regulatory requirements can drag teachers down, takes time away from teaching and can often just disillusion teachers in today’s teaching environment.

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