[EDITORIALS]Judging teaching qualityAhn Byung-young, deputy prime minister and minister of education and human resources, said he wanted to introduce an evaluation system for school teachers. He was thinking, he said, about ways to make school teachers concentrate on teaching and work harder. That is a worthy goal in the sense that competition in the teaching profession could change the perception that our teachers have an “iron rice bowl” and cannot be dismissed.
The most important factor in the quality of education is the competence of the teachers. Under a highly qualified model teacher, brilliant students with good manners will be produced. Then the quality of school education would improve and with the improvement of overall education levels, Korea’s national competitiveness in this era of global competition would be enhanced. But Korea’s education environment these days is just the opposite. Students cannot learn in school what is necessary for them to learn. Parents shun public education and cling to private tutoring. Excellent teachers are essential for the future of the nation.
It is a world trend that the evaluation of teachers is a part of the policy for managing teachers. In Japan, provincial education commissions classify teachers into three grades and teachers who are put in the lowest grade undergo training. If their training results are poor, they can be suspended from teaching for some time or even fired. In the United States, teachers renew their contracts after re-evaluations every three years. Those who fail undergo training. Those who fail to improve after training are dropped.
In Korea, teachers keep their positions until they are in their 60s. Throughout their employment, they receive no evaluations except for a few training sessions required for promotions. So they neglect their professional development. There were attempts to introduce evaluations, but they all failed because of tenacious opposition from teachers. Their logic was very simple: “Who can evaluate teachers?”
Teachers must be open-minded and accept evaluations proudly. It is, of course, necessary to develop better evaluation methods. Under the guise of evaluations, teachers should not be tried or troubled with unreasonable standards.