Prior to the holiday season I was reading a very intriguing article in the New York Times about Dr Pisa Sahlberg. Dr Sahlberg is an international keynote speaker on education and a published author. His latest book; “Finnish Lessons; What can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?” is a bestseller in educational literature (December, 2011).
Dr Sahlberg in the article discusses the need for teaching to be a highly revered profession. In examining the latest OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) report (2009), the findings are as follows:
It can only be assumed that the new report with findings, to be released later in 2012, will be somewhat similar (possibly with only China to watch). Dr Sahlberg has a very interesting point about student achievement in relation to highly; qualified, creative, paid, and satisfied teachers. He directly relates professional standards to the success of his country’s achievements. In the article it was stated that Dr Sahlberg said:
…Teachers typically spend about four hours a day in the classroom, and are paid to spend two hours a week on professional development. At the University of Helsinki, 2,400 people competed last year for 120 slots in the (fully subsidized [five year]) master’s program for schoolteachers – It’s more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine.
It become obvious why the International Baccalaureate Organisation recently moved all operations to Helsinki. However, this aside, the report itself does not just measure Literacy, Mathematics and Science attainment levels. In context it measures so much more…
I was saddened to hear on a radio news broadcast only last week that there needed to be at least 100 more teachers sacked in England to ensure that the teaching standard was upheld! Though this comment came primarily around the need for Head Teachers to have more power to dismiss under performing teachers, it was still idiotic. The context of education in; England, many parts of Europe, and on a large scale in the United States, sees teaching being chosen as a profession, as a last resort. Many of the rigorous teaching degrees have now been removed and replaced with a Bachelor of Arts and a three to six month conversion for teaching. The quality of teaching can, and will, only get worse, as too will the leadership and ultimately the country’s performance, economic growth and competitiveness as a whole.
According to This is Money website, teachers in the UK rank 80th in terms of UK Salaries, which from review is extremely poor. It gives food for thought…. How do and should we value teachers given the evidence?