Myth # 5 – Teachers can improve by following instructions given to them by their seniors
This is an extension of the previous myth, except it operates between officials/supervisors and teachers. The notion is that the teacher is merely a cog in the wheel, lower down in the hierarchy, and the best way to get him to improve is to make him comply with instructions from above. Apart from the fact that the instructions from above often tend to be problematic, it is also true that many of them don’t get implemented at all. At best, teachers can be made to comply with rules such as coming on time, or turning in a certain amount of work – but they can’t be made to like children, or smile at them, or feel like coming to work every day and radiating this enthusiasm to students and colleagues. That is only possible if the system seeks a partnership with teachers, treats them as fellow stakeholders and engages with them on a more equal footing.
As the experience of RTE shows, instructions, rules and even laws that make lack of compliance justiciable – are insufficient to bring about the required change. They are simply the wrong instrument for the purpose. (I’ve written about coercive and generative power elsewhere.)
So what is the way in which teachers change?