Teaching standards and moral dispositions: Can we have one without the other?

Year: 2001

Author: Groves, Robin, Wallace, John, Louden, William

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

It has often been said that what isn't measured isn't valued. When we examine this little truism in the context of the teaching standards movement we are faced with an interesting and troubling paradox. While it is widely understood that teaching is a rich and complex act requiring a range of qualities, many lists of standards are reduced to a subset of 'measurable' attributes of teaching (knowledge and skills) leaving aside the 'unmeasurable' (the moral, ethical and aesthetic domains). The teaching standards movement, it would seem, has foundered on this important point—how to measure that which is valued and, in turn, value that which is measured. In this paper, we extend the discussion on standards and moral dispositions through our involvement in a standards project with a group of experienced science teachers. Teachers were asked to examine video episodes of classroom teaching for evidence of various standards including the moral disposition of sincerity. We use teachers' comments on the teaching episodes to show that moral dispositions are recognised and described by experienced colleagues. We suggest how moral dispositions might be incorporated into lists of standards that provide a rich and full account of teaching and form a sound basis for making judgements about good teaching.