A professor of a graduate course in instructional supervision claimed supervisors should behave more like gardeners than like auto-mechanics. At the time, I thought this was a good analogy, but upon later reflection I realized it contained the fallacious proposition of either/or.
The statement does incorporate two excellent similes that become analogous to two supervisory view points. I will explore these two personnel management models and the behaviors involved. Here, only the mechanic approach to instructional staff supervision will be discussed.
Traditionally a mechanic is a repairman. In this sense, it is assumed that something has broken down, that something has gone wrong and needs to be fixed. From an educational point of view, the supervisor who adheres to this philosophy assumes something is wrong within his area of supervision. This may involve subject matter content, teacher methodology, teacher-student rapport, classroom discipline or any number of other issues. This is a negative approach and most certainly would be reflected 兒童記憶力訓練 in the overt behavior of the person who accepts the mechanic position. Staff will react negatively and will resent any suggestions given. This negativity will spill over into the classroom, prevent teaching innovations and will end in a morale problem in the school.
The supervisor who follows this approach, like the mechanic, looks for trouble. If the brakes on your car have bad shoes, the mechanic fixes them. That is his only concern. He does not look for causes beyond worn brakes shoes. He does not try to determine why the brake shoes are worn. Do you ride the brakes as you drive? If you do, the mechanic most likely will not suggest ways for you to stop doing that or to explore reasons why you do do it. In a few months you may need to have the brake shoes replaced again. The person who follows the mechanical approach does not get involved in re-education of the teacher or the teaching staff. He is not concerned about similar future problems. In such a map, the interpersonal climate dies. The students pay the price.
In the next article, the gardener approach to educational supervision will be the focus.