A very interesting topic over whether teaching has become a "fenimized" profession. I think one point to realize is that teaching may be "feminizied" but I doubt that administration or professional development is if the representation of men in edtech PD can attest. I think this is something to note and be aware of as we look at schools. This is out of the UK.
Dan Pink has a recent article (February 2012) on the issue of merit pay for teachers with some compelling points. He also has a TED talk on the topic in which he quotes research on how performance pay can backfire in unintended ways.This leads me to think that this is a voter-driven issue and what voters need is leadership in this area by people who are willing to find out the information and become well educated on the topic. The world needs education and it starts at the top with people who will drill down into an issue.
Controversy in the Uk as they move to performance based pay (which - if you watch the Dan Pink Ted Talk about this topic, you'll find DOESN'T WORK). It seems some discussions move from country to country without understanding if they really work.
Scott McLeod has pulled out a set of five slides about education from the Flickr pool about "Great Quotes about Learning and Change" that are worth reading. They would make great fodder for discussions. My favorite is the first one. "The danger of lectures is that they create the illusion of teaching for teachers, and the illusion of learning for learners." Albert Camus
I think that Doug has some good points about "ready, fire, aim" which is typically what education seems to do, as he discusses 1:1 ipad deployment. That being said, I'm still an advocate for it in my school, largely because we don't have the IT department to support 1:1 laptops. One woman who also teachers just can't handle everything.
I read this post from Darren Draper and his response to Utah's discussion of common core standards. Read his thoughts. Here's my response on my current thinking on Common Core right now - I thought I'd put it here.
"I think that in terms of the "big picture" of having a common interface - having a common core set of standards makes sense. The states have proven that they can create a convoluted hodge podge of stuff that they really can't keep updated. That being said,I think the question that is coming to me at this point is: who updates common core when mistakes are there and also, does common core PRESCRIBE what to think in some areas like history and science. The math, writing, and reading standards are the first because they make sense and are far less controversial, but even those have been accused of taking kids down to the lowest common denominator and not pushing higher order thinking. OK, so those standards need improvement -- who does it and HOW? WHO is responsible for addressing these issues.
I think also, the thought of having science and history for example prescribed to us makes me nervous. I look to my friend Suzie Nestico to help me understand these standards as she knows far more than I do. I find that many standards are now written with an implicit worldview attached and that is what bothers me. I think that it is important to read many different aspects of history and there are aspects of it that are left out in many "versions" of history. Which "version" will we adopt as a country. The very fact it would be so is somewhat troubling to me. I had some history profs in college - if they had their world view imposed upon the rest of us - we'd be far worse off than we are now.
So, I think the biggest issues I have are not that we NEED common standards - because we do. Many countries have them. It is who is the governing body? Who is making it up? How will standards be edited? The truth is that the people who control the standards will control much of the thought of the next generation and it is that sort of thing that makes most American's nervous. We've long had independent and diverse states and while common core has its advantages - this one issue of WHO behind the WHAT of the standards has many people (including me) wanting to know more. "