Thompson: Merit Badges for Teachers? You've Gotta Be Joking
Perhaps the key purpose of schools is teaching children to become "inner directed" persons, who can control their own behavior. Its hard to think of a single more destructive aspect of data-driven reform than its seemingly unintended consequence of turning children into "other directed" persons, trained to just respond to carrots and sticks.
Perhaps this is not a disgraceful byproduct of testing, but an embrace of a humiliating value system for both adults and children.
The Tennessean’s Joey Garrison, in Merit Badge Idea for Nashville Teachers, Students Draws Ire, describes an incredible new way of supposedly bestowing respect on teachers – issuing merit badges.
He reports on the opportunity being granted to “earn ‘virtual badges’ — tokens, of sorts — for taking on additional professional development or demonstrating other accomplishments.” Garrison writes that the badge system might even be expanded and tied to compensation.
This is not an April Fools joke. The badges would be digital icons or logos on the district's computer system. But, they may also offer a physical badge, like those issued by the Boy Scouts.
Nashville’s chief academic officer, who pushes the idea, said that the district will solicit teacher input before developing its final proposal. They might tie the badges to pay in the 2015-16 budget.
There is talk of expanding this disrespectful idea to students, further teaching them to salivate before virtual treats. The kids could cash in virtual badges at online stores. The logic behind teaching students to devalue learning is, as usual, Orwellian, "We want kids to own their learning and own their experience, and this is a way to do it."-JY(@drjohnthompson) Image via.