Wednesday, December 15, 2010

High School Students and Teacher Evaluations

I found this comment over at Joanne's to be particularly insightful:

The problem with high school level evaluations, that I see, is that most high school students aren’t trusted to walk themselves to lunch off campus. Are we really going to trust them with something that can make or break a teacher’s career? College-level evals are somewhat more justified, because college students are (should be) a self-selected group of marginally more responsible, thoughtful students who aren’t being forced to be there. There’s limited utility in asking a prisoner, even one in a gilded cage, how he likes his confinement. And if you are imprisoning him “for his own good” then you’re undercutting the very idea that he’s competent to make decisions for himself.


mazenko said...

We don't trust them to choose whether they want the education or not. We don't trust them to choose their own schedule and take core classes without them being "required" for graduation. We don't trust them to simply "learn" without having to verify it with tests. So, yes, there is an inherent hypocrisy in expecting them to make reasoned and fair evaluations. I believe I have a lot of students who could effectively evaluate - and I have a lot of students who value my class because of its rigor, not for its "ease" or "fun." But I know far too many teachers who are favored and praised by students and parents precisely because class is fun and easy - so much so that it's a blow-off.

Lot of wisdom in that statement.

Ellen K said...

The same mentality that gives every team a trophy and that cushions every negative is driving this sort of long term childhood which in the end leads to long term childishness. In my parents' generation, you were an adult when you hit eighteen if not earlier. You were expected to get a job, go in the military or go to college. People that age got married. Now we have kids who prolong their childhood into their late twenties and whose parents have created bumbling, doofish monsters that eat up their leftovers and run up their electric bill.

After all that, the parents in my school don't want to trust kids to go off campus for lunch. It could be controlled by having swipe machines for ID's and if they are late three times, they lose the privilege. But parents who willingly send their kids on senior trips to Caribbean islands shudder in horror of allowing their kids to go to Arby's for lunch. If you cannot trust your kid in simple tasks by the time they can drive, what makes them think their kids will get up and go to class at a college hundreds of miles from home?

Happy Elf Mom said...

I agree, Ellen, but ARE there decent jobs for these children to get? Could it be that our children act younger than they are socially precisely because there are few avenues for them to become respected and completely self-sufficient adults until they are somewhere around 27ish? I know there are exceptions and 16-year-old millionaires and whatnot, but most people I see around about become completely independent much later... and by that I mean no loans from Mom, no living at home, laundry and taxes on your own, etc.

This push to keep children in school until their 18th birthday is worrisome to me because it will fuel exactly this sort of prisoner mentality. Make all education voluntary, and then your evaluations will have more merit. You may even be surprised at the children who decide to stay and begin to work HARDER. Though I do think we underestimate many responsible teens who are capable of separating "I don't want to be here" from "This is a bad teacher" on a review.

My thoughts, anyway.