March 29, 2012
This is the question currently on the minds of Hamburg’s educators and politicians. More importantly, will this kind of evaluation lead to positive change or just cause mutual bad-tempered reactions that will ultimately lead to a worsening relationship between teachers and students? The city in Northern Germany is wondering.
A new move by Hamburg’s Senate is causing heated debate on the city’s educational scene, according to reports by the local paper Hamburger Abendblatt. The local faction of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) proposes that teachers should be evaluated by their students, claiming that the goal is to raise the quality of teaching in class. The paper further reports that politicians are now focusing more on singular teachers than schools. But that’s not all the SPD proposal calls for. Teachers should also observe each other at work.
Germany has a thorough approach to most things, and education is definitely one of them. Various statistics from Germany will confirm the country’s go-getting attitude. German schools and politicians are still talking about the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study from 2010, where German schools showed less than stellar results. Apparently this is still a serious sore spot. The worldwide PISA studies report on scholastic abilities of 15-year-old school students in OECD member countries.
The declared goal of the SPD is achieving a broad and comprehensive feedback culture. Their idea is that every student gives their teacher a short feedback after every class. Young graduates wanting to be teachers in Germany already have to first complete a type of trainee phase at schools, where they are observed by older colleagues and receive such feedback from students.
But the new proposal is also about communication between teachers and school supervisors. Which involves a pretty serious change of MO and which the party itself says is going to be a long journey.
Hamburg’s School Inspection department (Schulinspektion) is researching the strengths and weaknesses of the city schools in a long process. In the course of their inspection they have arrived at the conclusion that there are actually less differences in teaching quality from school to school, but more from classroom to classroom. It does make sense to tackle individual issues first before moving on to bigger goals. Read more of this post