Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Decertification of the profession"

In my course last night, the professor used the above phrase in the context of the teaching profession. The move by governments, in this concept, to standardise teaching curriculums, tests, rubrics, and everything else is nothing short of an attempt to decertify the teaching profession. Let's set aside for a second that anyone with comparable schooling to a teacher (ie: lawyers, accountants, et cetera) makes more money as it is, what many jurisdictions would like to do is to get rid of all those $80 000 salaries that the most senior teachers have. One way to do this is to simply lay out everything required of a teacher in such a rigid form that anyone can grasp it. Then the boards can turn around and say "Why are we paying you so much?" Given the public attitude towards teachers (not good), it would be a surefire vote-getter too.

When Dr. Rinaldo made these comments, it reminded of a story I had heard about one of the executives at Air Canada saying that pilots were, in his opinion, "unskilled labour." It makes me wonder if this may be one of the big trends of the next 20 years or so, the decertifying of kinds of specialised work. Technology will be one of the major excuses for this too, they can put rubrics online, increasingly they can get planes to fly themselves. Right? Well, not exactly, you can put all kinds of materials on the internet for teachers, but turning them into effective classroom tools takes real skill. Managing classrooms is not just a matter of reading a list strategies and picking one. You need to know your audience - what the specific needs are of your students, not just the hypothetical kids that were used to conceive of some lesson plan online. And flying a plane? I'm not a pilot, but I've known a couple, and all I'll say is that unskilled labour it is not.

All the same, there are a myriad of interests that would like nothing more than for all manner of work to be labeled as "unskilled" labour. I've heard the argument that unions are outmoded relics from an age of children in the mines and 14 hour days, but in the coming years, nothing will be more important than to have that sort of protection in all manner of professions. The decertifiers are coming.