Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mike Hosking: Let's make teaching an attractive profession again

Performance pay in education is one of those things governments have given up on, those that thought the idea had merit anyway. They tended to be National governments.

And it is a good idea. The same way it’s a good idea in virtually every other workplace anywhere. The idea that a pay rise or reward only comes as a result of time spent in the classroom suggests that simply turning up makes you better, which of course it does not.

The argument always put forward by unions is that somehow, unlike all other professions, teaching is unique.

There is no other job on Earth like it given you can't judge people on performance. It is not possible to single out one teacher from another other. The only difference is that one might have been teaching for three years and another four years, therefore that is where your remuneration judgement begins and ends.

Another of the weaknesses in the system is that if you really want to bump your pay beyond the top tier, you have to go into management. That means if you are one of those really rare and great teachers, you are lost to the kids on a daily basis.

It is the most backward and gerrymandered system going. We know this because every one of us has been at school and all of us who have kids and grandkids have seen the good teachers, the great teachers, the lazy teachers, and the hopeless teachers. We all know the variation because we have all seen it and experienced it.

Being a teacher is hard work. It's gotten harder as school has increasingly become a social welfare outlet as well as an educator. So, there has never been a more important time to recruit better teachers.

And yet, we don’t.

Teaching is not revered. It's not a profession of particularly high standing because it's not been treated as such. It won't attract the go-getter the way it could because the bar is so limited.

Like it or not, fiscal reward makes the world go round. No, pay isn't everything. But it’s a marker, it's a reward, it's an incentive, and it's an achievement.

You can still have the job as a passion or a calling, but good money is your cream on the cake.

Until we treat teachers like most others, until we give the profession genuine financial respect, we will have what we have.

And that is a system that fails kids. Not all of them, but far too many. Pass rates that aren't up too much, absenteeism that is shocking, and education in this country that is too often mediocre.

The statistics are there for all to see.

New South Wales, tired of the same old same old, is willing to give it a shakeup. I wish them well, and I hope we learn.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings


Robert Arthur said...

A major disincentive to objective persons of the sort necessary to teach maths and science is the need to embrace matters maori. For industrious progressive sorts, a lifetime of pretending to revere maori and their stone age language and customs is severely daunting to, so they are lost to the profession.

Anonymous said...

i understand the 'pay for performance' concept, but it might be too simplistic to apply to teachers. parental involvement has been a proven ingredient in student success & a great teacher is more of a 'catalyst' than a reactant. perhaps there needs to be a more nuanced approach to evaluating a teacher's performance than pure output...

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

The outcomes of schooling depend on numerous factors of which teacher quality is only one. Put a mediocre teacher in a well-run school with supportive parents and motivated learners and s/he will have great performance stats. Conversely, the best teacher imaginable will perform poorly (by student outcomes) in a shambolic environment in which s/he is not supported.

Anonymous said...

What if we had a program where successful, talented people from all walks of life were encouraged to do a teaching sabbatical as a philanthropic gesture. Perhaps they could spend the first few weeks or months getting some basic training, but then send them into the classroom before they get to the cultural dogma and woke indoctrination part of the course so that kids get exposed to a diversity of opinion. Because teachers should be doing it for the kids. It seems like the ministry of education and the teacher's union believe that schools exist for the benefit of the teachers.

Robert Arthur said...

Most persons would not last the distance. They would say or do something which someone would interpret as racist, touch some child, or upset some parent and incur an accusation of misconduct. The profession is now for persons of an easy going nature untroubled by whether their charges acheive anything or not.
Adoption of maori culture especially facilitates the attitude.