Professionals follow protocols or scripts, writes Jenny D. But when teachers are asked to follow a script, they’re offended.
A professional cellist needs to know how to read the music (the protocol). In addition, he needs to know how to play the cello (the skills). Or a doctor. She needs to know how the procedure for doing an appendectomy (the protocol) and also needs to know how to use a scalpel, how to tie off bleeding arteries, how to clamp the appendix, etc. (the skills). All of these professions have protocols, which are replicable, to some extent measurable, and repeatable procedures for doing the work of the profession. Protocols allow for professional standards to be developed, for specialized knowledge of the profession to grow, and for professionals to be more powerful by having and using that specialized knowledge. Without protocols, it’s barely a profession because there’s really no way to distinguish the work of the professional from similar work by anyone else.
Several have argued that teaching is so individualized between teacher and student that it can’t be routinized, or that it shouldn’t be because it would be demeaning. On the contrary, I think some standardized, scientifically based protocols would actual improve the standing of teachers.
Psychologists, pressured by managed care plans to show results, have moved to short-term standardized therapies designed to produce specific outcomes, she writes. Studies show the protocols produced the desird results.
These protocols were not entirely scripts; they could be tailored to fit the individual patient’s needs. But they provided a fairly tight framework that kept the therapy on track, and prevented the process from drifting into inertia.
The psychologists I spoke to said this new way of viewing therapy (which was loathed by most shrinks when first introduced) has actually shed new light on their work. It has allowed them to see results, and to build on the results by doing more research and measurement of their professional efforts.
Many teachers think of teaching as an art. But not all teachers are great artists.
Jenny D’s also looking for links to stories on parents complaining about Christmas celebrations in schools: Either too much Christmas or too little will work for her, as long as people are complaining. Which they usually are.