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I shared the stage with the incomparable David Price at the WAPPA Conference in Perth last week.  I was hosting a panel discussion and David said something that has been spinning in my head since.

David’s assertion was that the word “performance” is doing more damage in schools than we might be aware of.

And the more I think about, I think he’s right.

A teacher’s job is not to perform, like either a rockstar or a trained monkey.

A classroom is not a stage dedicated to the performance of a talented individual, it’s a place where students and their progress should be the focus.

Teaching for performance is also exhausting.  It’s little wonder that our teachers are going home with sore throats and headaches if they’re forced to “perform” for several hours every day.

An obsessive focus on teacher performance is a clear implication for students that they don’t need to engage, provide effort or get involved … unless their teacher’s performance warrants it.

Politicians of all flavours carry on about improving teacher performance in the lead-ups to elections, but the truth is they intend not to provide any further resource or support to the schools who are supposed to produce these performers. It’s an easy whack.

And it’s nonsense.

The sooner we can drop this corrosive word from our educational lexicon the better.  It cheapens what great teachers do and that’s activate their students in the personal pursuit a more positive life trajectory through achievement.

I think I’m now anti-performance.  Yeah.  I am.

Thanks David.

Keep fighting that good fight.

PS. I’ll be co-hosting the ACEL Conference later this month with Maxine McKew. It’s going to be pretty awesome and I reckon you should register at this link.

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