Morally Ambiguous Teaching

I have a student teacher this year. Her name is Chloe.   I also have to give a standardized test this week.

So I’m stuck.   Do I give the test honestly?   Or do I do what I really do?

As one administrator put it, “This test has no educational value.   Do as you will, as long as the scores improve.”   I need a ten point gain this quarter.   I’ve been a teacher for so long that I can get ten points by winking at kids at the right time.   Which is more or less what I do.

Once a kid asked me, “Why don’t you just give us the answers like the other teachers, instead of this half-cheating thing you do?”

So Monday I’m torn.   Do I model the honest teacher?   Or do I show Chloe the world in which she will make her living?

Before class, I begin by explaining to Chloe how, last year, the department had a long meeting, during which we agonized over the morality of standardized testing.   Is it moral to give the test at all?   If we give the test, is it ever moral to cheat?   How can teachers even evaluate the morality of testing we don’t value educationally?   And so I explained to Chloe this question and that one and on and on until – I was struck by another question.

When did teaching become morally ambiguous?


Filed under: Prose, Publius