Evaluating teachers on their students’ performance has elicited much public comment of late. In essence, this view assumes that if students aren’t learning, the fault lies squarely with their teachers. Well, perhaps. But not necessarily. While the logic of this view seems compelling at first, a moment’s reflection shows that it ignores several factors over which teachers have no control.
These factors include: the home life of children; the social dislocations of our time; America’s Gospel of Instant Gratification; commercial TV; school sports; the restlessness of American society and its ingrained anti-intellectualism and ambivalence toward knowledge; youth’s distrust of the adult world and the school; youth culture and its rejection of tradition; the Millennial Generation and its outlook on life; technology’s negative impact on learning; Facebook; the eclipse of reading, and our youth’s literal-mindedness, lack of intellectual curiosity, inability to ask significant questions and disinclination to cultivate a critical mind. These are far more relevant factors that affect student learning, and an article could be written on each of them.