Responsibility vs accountability

When I wrote about the schools we need and Chris Lehman’s terrific presentation, I mentioned his comment about an educator’s sense of responsibility to her or his students.  Maybe I am extremely naive and overly optimistic, but I think teachers have an inherent sense of responsibility and desire to see their students succeed.  If anything takes that away from us in these days of testing-as-king, it is the fact that teachers are being held accountable.

OK, now I am really going to sound naive.  But I really believe that most teachers are in the profession because they want to make a difference.  All the teachers I know are, at least.  As teachers, we do take on the role of parent, at least for those 7 or however many hours a day.  We care about our students.  We want them to succeed.  We want to help them succeed.  And we feel responsible for them.

But when someone tells us that we have to make them succeed, it changes the whole feel in the classroom.  As a teacher I am no longer responsible for my students but rather for their success.  And not the student’s idea of success or even mine but someone else’s. And we are accountable not to the student or to ourselves for that student’s success but to that “someone else”.

I don’t want to make this an anti-testing or anti-accountability post because I am not in a K-12 classroom.  I have only second-hand knowledge of what that is like.  But I thought Chris’s comment deserved more than just being mentioned in passing.

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