Having read some of the fantastic contributions to this #blogsync I feel somewhat concerned. Many of the ideas I had have already been covered, such as the politicisation of education, lack of aspiration, teacher bashing in the press and so on, so I’m going to wish for the end of some of my pet hates.
Argument for argument sake
Why do many teachers seem to feel the need to argue? Teachers (including some of those on twitter) seem to enjoy labelling each other, sneering at progressive, or sneering at old fashioned, or just sneering. None of this is helpful. Many seem to create a dichotomy where none exists, take recent discussions about group work. Well, here’s a revelation, how about it depends upon what you are doing? The same can be said for discovery learning, learning through play, and teacher talk. There is no set way, that’s why we’re professionals. We make that judgement decision based upon the class, the subject, the mood, even (sometimes) the weather. What we should not be doing is making that judgement based upon what others might think if we tweet it. Apart from learning styles, which is nonsense.
Being led by fools
Lets just say that I was put in charge of education. Imagine. Now, I know quite a lot about it, I’ve been a teacher for 16 years and a good one for about 5 (no, really). Were it my job to create a curriculum I would talk to as many people who might be able to help as possible. I would also acknowledge that I know bugger all about education for anyone over the age of 11.
Given that there are academics, experienced head teachers, teachers and governors out there it would seem sensible to listen to them. Having recently looked at the first draft of the primary science curriculum I find it hard to imagine that anyone helped with that, other than some mates down the pub regurgitating what they could regurgitate from their grammar school days. I kid you not. Some of the knowledge was actually incorrect, like a badly done pub quiz. I have recently heard that two science educators who I admire hugely have been trying their best to improve it, at short notice, before the next draft is out, which leads me to my next point….
Changing something huge takes time. It cannot, should not, be rushed. To design, write, implement a curriculum before the next election is foolhardy. Lack of proper consultation, leaks, people walking out of curriculum groups, well, it doesn’t look good. If this new curriculum is to be taken seriously then it needs the backing of the people who are going to implement it otherwise everyone will convert to academy status to avoid it. Or perhaps that’s what the SoS wants. Currently I teach in a LA school so I will have to teach the new curriculum but as most teachers know there are ways around these things. I’ve always thought of the NC as a minimum, that’s the least I should be doing, and I manage pretty well to cover it all and have time left to develop topics in a child led way. I hope that the new curriculum allows me the time to continue to do so.
Parental support in teaching their child that no means no before they start school, the support of the press who need to understand that most teachers work bloody hard to do their best for the children in their care, the support of politicians who need to work with us rather than assuming that we’re all unionised, lazy, pension and holiday grabbing lefties, and the support of senior leaders who need to allow teachers to try new things as without this nothing changes.
Teaching needs people to stay connected because it is only through acting as a group that these changes may become reality.
I hope so.