RECENTLY ON TOL:
- A tumblr site dedicated to the people and places that make up Oregon and Southwest Washington.
With regard to teachers' unions:
I currently teach Computer Science at Portland Community College. In a previous life, I did research in Artificial Intelligence.
What I know from my teaching experience is that teaching is a talent-based activity. When you walk into a room where good teaching is taking place, it is (as a previous speaker on this show said) an electric experience. People are awake. They're having fun. They're participating. You can tell.
What I know from my experience in AI is that even the smartest computers are amazingly stupid when you look "behind the screen." The trick to Artificial Intelligence is that if stupid runs very quickly, it can sometimes look very smart.
There are things that only a human can do. Experiencing the feel of a classroom is one of them.
Teachers' unions want an objective process of teacher evaluation. That objective process is going to be a set of rules written down in a union contract. The problem is, you can't reduce the feel of excellent teaching to a set of objective criteria.
Once you take away the possibility of subjective evaluation, you've entered the realm of AI. You've lost the advantage of having a human in the loop. You've gone from the intelligence that humans are capable of to the catastrophically lower level that computers and bureaucratic processes are capable of.
There is no AI-like set of "objective" bureaucratic criteria that can operate at the level that humans are capable of -- not seniority, not a teacher's list of academic degrees, not anything you can write down in a union contract.
Teaching is important. Teaching takes talent. Teaching deserves to be managed at the highest level of excellence that humans are capable of. Reaching that level requires that we let humans evaluate the quality of teaching.
posted 2 years, 2 months ago
view in context