Merit Pay Rears Its Ugly Head Again!
Teachers Teach Students; They Don't Learn Them!

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

   Lawyers defend clients; they don't acquit them.  Physicians treat patients; they don't heal them.  Teachers teach students; they don't learn them.  The merit pay concept for education is incurably flawed because the assumption is that teachers actually "learn" students.  It's not even correct English.  No, the motivation to learn is a social/cultural phenomenon.  If a "student" bring little or no motivation to learn to the schooling process, then there is little that a teacher can do to make this "student" learn.  Our clueless educrats (by the way, it's nice to see my word, "educrats," creeping into the vernacular; I am waiting for "snoopervision" to take hold also) have never accepted this.  In fact, I don't even think that they understand this.  They still think, metaphorically speaking, that the Earth is flat.

    I am not talking about abilities; I am talking about motivation.  Many "students" come to class each day without any book, pencil, notebook, etc., and they either stay disengaged (by sleeping or day-dreaming) or they play "cops and robbers" with their teachers, disrupting any viable chance for the students who want to learn to learn.  I propose that these non-learners be sent to an official Non-Learning Center (NLC).  I would actually call it the "Non-Learning Center."  The other students would dog them out, and this would be good!  We have to learn to do what other countries do (and are quite successful at it):  We need to use peer pressure to improve learning, not to deflate learning.  This was done so naturally by American teachers of yesteryear, but we became "sensitive" to the "self-esteem" of our student-thugs, and now these thugs are destroying our schools.  Hardly anyone will breathe this, but at MACE, we are just "crazy" enough to tell the truth.  No, I would not even go through the pretense of sending instructional lessons to the students who are removed from the regular school environment because of their willful and wanton misconduct.  Sending special instructional materials for these student-thugs is just a continual shifting of the responsibility for learning onto the backs of teachers instead of placing it where it needs to be placed...on the shoulders of the parents and their children.  Teachers are at the school to teach, not to be police officers, psychiatrists, bouncers, et al.  Teachers teach.  Students learn or they don't learn.  But, teachers definitely do not "learn the students."

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