Peer power can transform teaching, say education prize winners


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Treat them with respect, let them learn from their peers and give them the freedom to make decisions as a team.

    That’s the formula for developing great teachers, say two scholars who will share the 2015 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education for the ideas expressed in their book, “Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School.”

    Teachers will automatically elevate their own competency when placed in a team environment that encourages individual contributions, group interaction and continuous learning, said Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.

    Using that approach to boost teacher skills works much better than using performance-based education models to reward or punish individual teachers, they found.

    “Hargreaves and Fullan explain how teachers can thrive when they are treated with dignity and given freedom to exercise professional judgment together,” said award director Melissa Evans-Andris. “They also show how undue emphasis on teacher accountability has subverted the profession by pitting teachers and schools against each other and stealing the joy of teaching.”

    “Professional Capital,” published by Teachers College Press in 2012, won awards earlier this year from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and International Leadership Association earlier this year.

    Hargreaves holds the Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Fullan is professor emeritus at University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Both advise Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on education issues.

    Five Grawemeyer Award winners are being named this week. The university presents the prizes annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology and education and gives a religion prize jointly with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

    This year’s awards are $100,000 each. Hargreaves and Fullan will split their prize.