Sunday, August 19, 2012

Education reform appears caught in a time warp

"...a school board member from Allegheny, Pennsylvania told the N.E.A. that the two words which were 'electrifying the industrial world -- scientific management' contained a 'message' for every teacher, and near the end of his speech he indicated that if teachers did not voluntarily take steps to increase their efficiency the business world would force them to do so. As a result great energy was expended on using the available tests and on developing new tests or scales or rating sheets or anything else that would seem to provide tangible evidence of efficiency. As one superintendent...put it, 'the results of a few well-planned tests would carry more weight with the business man and the parent than all the psychology in the world.'
"In the process of actually attempting to measure efficiency within the schools, educators engaged in a wide variety of activities, but most of the attention was devoted to developing and utilizing 'objective' achievement tests in the language arts and arithmetic and in developing scales for rating the efficiency of teachers."

While one might think this comes from a recent article espousing reforms in public education, incredibly the year was 1911.

Callahan, Raymond E. (1962). Education and the Cult of Efficiency. The University of Chicago Press. (Summary available at

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