This blog is managed by Song Hock Chye, author of Improve Your Thinking Skills in Maths (P1-P3 series), which is published and distributed by EPH.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Performance-linked pay more harm than good

Straits Times Forum, 1 Jan 2008

Performance-linked pay more harm than good

I REFER to the recent news about pegging teachers' pay package to performance.

Though it is commendable that the Government is trying to attract more teachers to the profession by paying them well and ensuring that hardworking outstanding teachers are rewarded monetarily, I feel that there are better ways to ensure that they stay in the teaching profession.

Rewarding workers with better bonuses and salary is just one of the many ways to retain workers. Often, an understanding principal and co-operative colleagues also contribute immensely to reasons why teachers stay on in their jobs. A positive vibrant working environment has always been an attraction for workers to continue contributing. Regular positive feedback is also vital in any organisation.

In a buoyant employment market where teachers are often employed on a contractual basis, the ability to get them to renew their contracts has to be done creatively.

Many teacher friends I know are not really attracted to the profession for the salary, but for honourable reasons. They really want to change the lives of their students. Often, their ambition is crushed either by a stifling school environment or an overbearing principal.

I have also heard that some teachers have little room to implement their own teaching style. There is a lot of red tape plus politics, especially in an environment where many colleagues want to score points by 'out-teaching' one another for a better appraisal.

The performance-pegged bonuses, though commendable, may create too much tension in the school environment, when teaching should primarily be a vocation that practitioners do out of love. If a teacher carries out his job with the intention to perform well to gain more bonuses, then teaching may not be the right profession for him.

Principals should not grade teachers well just because they do what is demanded of them. Many will then follow the crowd and do the necessary just to achieve above-average appraisals.

Often, outstanding teachers do more than is required of them. I remember a primary school teacher who visited students who were absent and even raised funds for families in need. Though their teaching was average, they motivated students to do better through their love and care.

Gilbert Goh Keow Wah

Hubei, China

Related Articles (updated on 7 Jan 2008):
Teachers' pay to be pegged closer to performance
Another Article on Teachers' Pay

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