Several of my Norwegian friends posted and reposted the following article on Facebook today. Intrigued by the few words I could understand when reading in Norwegian, I decided to Google translate (my best friend here) the newspaper article.
What I read was a very jumbled translation from Norwegian typical of Google translate, but it got the point across. It is a beautiful commentary by a Norwegian teacher speaking to the politicians and parents of Norway. There is currently an election going on in Norway, so many of these political issues are being reported. What I found interesting and a bit surprising about this commentary is that it sounds like the same issues teachers face in the United States. Two countries with very different sociopolitical structures battling the same issue.
Here is the Google translation:
Dear politicians across the country, I am the teacher. I note that you wish you the best school. You should educate the world’s best teachers and be on top of all international measurements. I think it’s nice that you have high aspirations, but I have something to confess.
Being greeted each day in all media with the mantra “we must have better teachers” do something with me. So do something about society’s attitudes to me. You have created a teacher contempt which may be useful in the electoral context, but very little appropriate if you think that respect for my profession should be increased.
I have five and a half years of university education, and what I would describe as highly skilled in languages and humanities. I am not alone in this. A third of the teachers at my school have the same qualifications, like me. The rest of my colleagues have teacher education – no one is unskilled.
You politicians describe a future master’s program for teachers that will revolutionize schools. The truth is well that we have never been prevented from taking even higher education?
Another truth is well that a longer study would imply correspondingly higher loans and lost income for future learning – without specific mention how this is going compensated.
We’ve all gone to school. Strangely enough, this seems to mean that everyone has an equally qualified opinion on how the school should be run. I have in my school also had to deal with teachers I wish were different. At the same time I have during their life had to deal with an incompetent doctor, an unsympathetic nurse, a untruthful real estate agent, an unwilling executive and prinsippryttersk officer. I also met politicians directly disinterested in listening to what I have to say, even if they sit in the Committee on Adolescence in my own city council.
But does my personal experiences mean that we need to have better doctors, better nurses, better real estate agents? Do we have the world’s best officers – or should we rather go politicians more closely?
Most of my elected representatives who sit in the Committee on Adolescence, have no experience of school. Some of them want me to vote them into parliament in a few weeks, also has little experience from working at all. For me, as a school man, this provides good reason for skepticism when my vote to the ballot box.
You policymakers use research and statistics it is worth – it understands. But just to be right: We may have high teacher density – the village schools and coastal islands in our vast country.
Although I work at a middle school in a large, right-hand drive by and have thirty students in the classroom – every hour, every day. That politicians refer to Hattie’s research on class size gives little sense (when this research reviews blackboard teaching versus alternative methodology), when Hattie’s findings while emphasizing the relationship of each student is one of the most important preconditions for learning. This last mentioned rarely in one word – probably because relationships takes time, which costs money.
I do not know about you politicians, but my understanding of reality is that the quality of a relationship is closely related to the time invested in the relationship.
We teachers are a growing number of courses in formative assessment, classroom management, literacy and numeracy – without taking into account the number of hours and minutes you necessarily need to spend on each child to provide this qualitative teaching and assessment. I find it difficult to believe that mandatory master teachers will solve this challenge, not to speak of the Conservative proposal doctorate in teaching to achieve the title as “learning specialist”. Only politicians can minimally about school is faithful to fantasize about such a future.
Be honest: admit that matt lift, “teacher specialists” and master’s degrees are valgflesk – not a welcome career boost for teachers.
Dear Parent: I like to spend time on your children. I would like to have time to listen to constructive conversation with your child about school work, mastery and learning. I would like to answer any questions that pop up – to help ensure that your child is an active participant in human society. I want your children to dare to express themselves verbally, ask your own questions, be critical and be heard. I would like to teach your child basic skills so that she can face the world with confidence and courage. But I wish that your child was not always one of thirty.
Your child does not get better results at school through that I take continuing education. Hattie studies – that right often points out – actually shows that the continuing education of teachers and minimal effect on student learning. Then turn your gaze away from Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
See a moment away from the OECD, PISA and PIRLS – all the abbreviations that induces us to believe that we are sinking like stones if we do not meet the international standings. But keep in mind that like two of the biggest success factors in the Finnish school teacher status and minimal politician involvement in school. Please let me know that we live in a competition-oriented society, the need to be in the top to assert itself.
But every day I meet cross-section of the population. Reality classroom consists of three who has not eaten breakfast. One that left both mother and father sleeping when he went to school. Four sitting up and playing Playstation to three at night. Two people who think they are too fat and who refuse to take off their coats. One who has carved up her thighs to razors. Three who love Justin Bieber. Three others who love One Direction – and hate Justin Bieber. One who will not live. Twelve living in two different homes. Wood that has jackets for 7000 crowns, two that have worn thin winter jackets they have inherited from older siblings. Four who do not have contact with one of their parents. One who does not know who his father is. Six own any books, fourteen have library card. Ti has never been read to at home. Fire has lived in Norway for less than three years.
All this taken into account (or rather not) have my municipality’s elected officials decided that the average on national tests in reading in all classes will be increased by a certain percentage per year. A number, determined by politicians without school competence, without educational or other scientific foundation. A number that lay people have come up with, but as professionals should be measured.
Do not misunderstand me: I enjoy in my diverse classroom – and do not think I do my best. But believe me that the Norwegian school can not run on the same principles as the private sector. Do not think that I have the same incentives as a career oriented economist of the investment industry. Neither I nor my students. Our formation mission to embrace the whole person – and all people.
Dear politicians: You want me to drive the world’s best school. Their election campaign almost crying that I nearly do my best. In spite of the mistrust and adversity seems I still think I’m doing the most meaningful in the world. How useless and senseless than it may appear me, I will continue to teach with both test regimes and congested classrooms.
I can even accept the unequal distribution of resources in the school, constantly restricted freedom to exercise my work as autonomous learning and bureaucratic reporting in all directions. Because I care. And because every day I will be allowed to work with those who are our future. But (and I know that you never start a sentence with “but”) destroys you more on my professional pride now, when I give myself.