kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Should teachers have autonomy?

The degree of teacher autonomy stimulates discussions about when teachers can call the shots in classrooms. Last week, Education deputy director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin reportedly said that teachers would soon be given leeway to teach so they could be more effective in classrooms.

Teachers do not need to follow packages and can formulate their own approaches to teaching. Schools, too, can come up with their own approaches to help teachers identify students’ problems and come up with solutions.

There is no one-size-that-fits-all definition in providing education. But, how much voice and how much say should teachers have in decisions?

Recently, a Form Three student in Kelantan was hospitalised after she was allegedly slapped by a religious teacher.

             It is crucial for teachers to work together to make school-level decisions.

It was claimed that she had responded rudely to the teacher who admonished her for shaving her eyebrows.

A few days later, a social media posting went viral when a man claimed that his nephew and two other students were beaten by a replacement teacher with a rotan and a piece of wood, leaving red marks on their bodies.

The incident occurred when the boys had tried to run away from the hostel of a private religious school in Perak.

These disciplinary incidents raise the questions whether it is possible or necessary for teachers to have decision-making powers.

There are many areas that teachers could have control over in schools. Selecting textbooks, topics and skills are areas in which teachers have the least amount of autonomy as a result of educational policies.

Choosing teaching techniques, evaluating and grading students, deciding on disciplinary measures and the amount of homework could be areas to consider when deciding the autonomy teachers can have in classrooms.

Autonomy can be a nebulous concept if it is not defined properly. It might not tell us about teacher success nor can it be enough to influence students’ performance in schools. Instead, it could lead to other problems if there are no guidelines for teachers.

The degree and types of autonomy vary among countries. For instance, Finland’s education system, which is steered by a flexible national framework, has been an exemplary model for many education policymakers and experts worldwide.

Finnish teachers — often compared professionally to doctors, architects and lawyers — are said to have much more professional autonomy than teachers from other countries.

Teacher autonomy has produced results in making Finland always near the top in international education rankings. ​

Trust is the keyword that makes teacher autonomy alive for them.

They are expected to use their judgment and creativity to design their curricula. Extensive training is the basis of how they want to work. But, are we ready to trust our teachers with a higher degree of autonomy?

There are many factors we need to look into and more needs to be done. At this point, there is a need to balance teachers’ rights and exercise significant control in their classroom.

We have to identify if the lack of teacher quality or the quality of our teacher education programmes in training teachers is the primary problem in Malaysian education.

At the same time, we need to know if finding the best and the brightest to become teachers is part of the solution.

Greater autonomy in decisions related to curriculum and assessment, which is what teacher autonomy is about, tends to be associated with better student performance.

However, granting teachers more autonomy does not necessarily improve quality of education.

Amin earlier said only 64 schools of the 1,178 that had implemented an autonomous system showed positive results. Decisions on how much autonomy should be given to schools should not stop at the district or administrative level, while ignoring the voices of educators and the community.

Perhaps, teaching must then be seen as a team sport and not an individual race.

Having the freedom to teach alone by being the only teacher in the classroom may not be an appropriate approach in giving autonomy to them.

It is crucial for teachers to work together to make school-level decisions.

Then, our schools can advance to collective professional autonomy about what and how they want to teach students.

This can benefit students and solve issues in the education system.
Tags: autonomy, teachers, teaching

Posts from This Journal “teaching” Tag

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