It is only in this country that all emphasis is on herding children into schools. What matters is that they should be effectively imprisoned six days a week in crowded rooms overseen by a so-called teacher. What the teacher knows, what she conveys, and how much sinks into childrenís brains, are irrelevant. There are other countries, however, where people worry about these questions, and try to reshape their schooling systems for more effective teaching.
The largest volume of research on these questions is probably conducted in the United States of America. And typically, it talks the language of economics. The effectiveness of every teacher is measured in terms of her value added. By this, the experts mean the average grade of a teacherís students before she started teaching them, and their average grade at the end of the first year of her teaching. This index has its problems. For instance, people would want to ask how a teacherís performance in her first year with a group of students is more important than in subsequent years, whether good teachers are heroes or good in only some subjects, whether the metrics are influenced by the quality of students they get, whether the attitude of the students, shaped by their microsocieties, matters or not, and so on. In response to these questions, researchers add more variables to their equations, and indulge in more sophisticated econometrics. The resulting welter of equations now seems to be yielding some results of practical use. It appears that there is a fairly high correlation between a teacherís value added in different subjects; in other words, a teacher who can teach one subject well is also likely to be good in other subjects. The major result of practical relevance follows from this, namely, that the way to improve teaching is to employ good teachers. The way to have a maximum impact would be to create good schools full of good teachers.
This happens to some extent in capitalist countries like the US and India; Indian children who go to some public schools, for example, do well later in life even if their fees bankrupt their parents. But in all countries, however rich, a very high proportion of students goes to government schools, which, for one reason or another, cannot segregate good teachers from bad ones: teachersí trade unions would not allow that for one thing, and the paucity of good teachers means that many of them would have to travel long distances if they were herded. But government policy is not all that matters; parents have some power too. And the way they should use it is by sending their children to good teachers. If that is not possible within the school system, they must do it outside the system. That argues for private tuition; it explains why tuition is so ubiquitous in India. Perhaps parents are doing something right.