I think there are too many bad heads around now. I think many of our check and balance mechanisms have gone into sleep mode or have rusted from decades of rot..... complacency, inefficiency, incapability, ignorance. That's just to name a few. And when school principals who appraise good teachers with a bent of vindictiveness get away with it because the check and balance mechanisms have failed... I just wonder how much more we'll rot.
A school with a head interested only with his teachers kowtowing to him can only be bad. No one is perfect. But when you have principals who can yell all kinds of deragoratory names on students and verbally pummel lady teachers (cos lady teachers are easier to bully), then I think most of us will probably agree that we might have a bully. And that is bad enough. Such people do not tolerate dissent. They are bent on releasing all hell if you dare question.
But when his vindictiveness is not checked by his number 2 in appraising teachers, I think it is a reflection too of how many good men and women we have left in the upper echeleons of our service. We have too many boot polishers and lickers now. I guess they are the products of our system, a system that is reeking with too many ineffiencies.
Many lament the sad state of our schools. PISA and TIMSS standings have been sliding. I think it's not just the slow responding curriculum or teachers who are the problem. Very often it has to do with the heads. When heads want to win more competitions or just focus on more of everything that can be applauded, seen and measured, then the building of the unseen such as character, a discerning mind will cease. Heads... many of them are too busy chasing their own agendas. Students become mere statistics.
We bend too many rules and insist on the long rod of stiff rules when it suits us. Funny how I didn't feel that my school had double standards when I was a student but now my students feel that they should bend standards to their advantage.
Officers from the MOE did come down to check this principal after some teachers wrote to the Ministry. He was transferred out of the school into another equivalent position in the Education Department. But as for the damage he inflicted... well, they remain long after he is gone. Appraisals are subjective. Most of us think we deserve better but I think it is still quite easy to set apart a good teacher. Then again, being a good teacher in class is not the most important thing in most schools now. Painting a good picture for everyone to see is.... and if you have to compromise your classroom work to achieve that, eyes generally get closed... well, partially closed at least.
We stoke our own egos. We live in our own castles built by our own minds. Teachers might often feel that they are better than appraised. But I think it is high time the Ministry comes up with a better check and balance mechanism. Maybe it's time too a section of the appraisal for the Principals and Senior Assistants be made up of appraisals from their subordinates, the teachers. We talk about accountability all the time. Perhaps this form of accountability should be considered as part of the check and balance mechanism.
As for this particular former Principal, maybe he was a victim of bully when he was a kid. Maybe he was subjected to much ridicule and name calling from young. Apparently word has it that he left the same trail of modus operandi every school he has held positions of authority. Heads worked their way up.... One wonders how such a head became a Principal in the first place.
In a world where collaboration, cooperation, cooperativeness are supposed to be keywords.... it feels like we are still quite entrenched in the old autocratic ways of the feudal world. This in a land where most things start from a wrong foot... by connections first, then race... then the rest of everything else. Disheartening....