Research has shown that if a good person is put in an unethical environment, the environment will dominate over the individual.
This quote, from Peter Dean, sums up the need for system change to make lasting change – addressing causes not just symptoms.
Gary Stager, in The Pulse, discusses the well-known Milgram Experiments, conducted in the 1960’s to see how far people would go in administering electric shocks to learners. These experiments were recently replicated by ABC News and Stager picks up the direct link to public education [please read the whole article]:
One of the subjects in the television program was a 7th grade teacher who explained that she didn’t stop shocking the learner because as a teacher she had learned when a student’s complaints were phony. I thought to myself, “Has she electrocuted many students?”
The teacher asked the researcher, “There isn’t going to be any lawsuit from this medical facility, right?” When told that the teacher was not liable, she replied, “That’s what I needed to know.” It is however worth noting that this was after she induced the maximum shock and the learner demanded that the experiment be terminated.
This is why we need to change the entire system – constraining curriculum; compulsory testing; useless homework; irrelevant subjects; classrooms cut off from the world; systemic bullying; etc. More or better teachers won’t help; we need to change the system.