So, a news story broke here last week. Apparently, they want to test, not only the literacy and numeracy skills of teachers, they also want to test their ‘passion‘. While I acknowledge, and I am sure many of my students would too, that there are many teachers for whom the passion for their work is long since passed, I wonder how they will test this ‘passion’. Anyone who’s been a teacher, particularly a teacher of a slippery subject in the humanities, will know it’s awfully easy to fake a belief in something. Paying lip service to a desire to teach, and actually having a passion for the job, are two very different ideas. As the response in The Conversation noted:
Under the proposed rules, prospective teachers will need to undergo emotional aptitude tests before they begin their training.
The idea has intuitive appeal and testing emotional intelligence remains a “hot topic” in psychology circles. But it is also a slippery construct and can be difficult to test.
This doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t have merit, but let governments and education faculties be warned, testing emotional intelligence will not be easy.
I wonder if this isn’t some more pre-election spin on the teacher bashing debate that’s been happening in this country since at least the 1990s, probably earlier. I say the 1990s because that’s when, as a student, I learned how undervalued and under-resourced the teaching profession was.
It also plays into my interest in home education. I don’t understand why people think it odd that some parents home educate. I mean, if you want to paint teachers as inadequte, if you want to position the profession through discourses of failure, in particular a failure of literacy and numeracy, then what else would a parent do but think, “my goodness, I need to take this into my own hands!”?
It seems illogical to me that the government doesn’t address the real problems, and these, in my opinion, go far beyond the classroom teacher. Structural problems with education, a failure to meet the genuine needs of a changed group of students for whom industrial models of education are no longer suitable or appropriate, are the real problems with education. No passion test could ever be devised to solve structural problems which are ignored for a quick media grab around failing teachers.
Real reform is needed, but I don’t think that is compatible with a three-year election cycle.