Another dot in the blogosphere?

A prelude to evaluating evaluations

Posted on: March 15, 2016

Today I start the first part of two or three reflections on the evaluation of teaching.

I tweeted this recently and it got me thinking about how organisations evaluate vendors who conduct professional development.

We can fix a blocked sink. We can perform first aid. We can teach someone a thing or two. But there are times when you call a plumber, see a doctor, or rely on a pedagogue instead.

Most people seem to almost instinctively know when a situation is beyond their ability and it is time to rely on a more knowledgeable and skilled other. This happens in the case of the plumber and doctor, but not always for the pedagogue. Why? Could this be because everyone can teach?

Of course everyone can teach. A parent teaches a child, a sibling teaches her sibling, an owner teaches his dog. However, not everyone knows how to teach well.

That is how this rant is related to the tweet. There are many pretender pedagogues who know how to copy, brand, and sell. They know HOW to do, but they know not WHY. There is a word for these people: Charlatans.

It takes two hands to clap, so the charlatans are not the only ones to blame. Organisations that employ these people often have filtering processes. However, some organisations are more porous than others while some focus on the wrong things.

So some flies are invariably going to escape the spider’s web. What can organisations do then? Evaluate all vendors that are called to teach.

In the next part, I suggest how such evaluations are the ultimate weak link and how they could be what allows charlatans to put on show after show.

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