Saturday, 21 May 2016
Those Who Can't Teach, Criticize Teachers
I went into teaching late: I was 46 when I retrained as an English teacher and 47 when I landed my first job at a school. I was thrilled: my own classroom, the chance to convey my love of books and the written word, the opportunity to enthuse and inspire young people. I had imaginative schemes of work I'd made up, with differentiation worksheets, media, the lot.
Two years later, exhausted, disillusioned, and mentally shattered I left full time teaching. To go from a state of euphoria to utter despair in such a short space of time had nothing to do with the kids, my colleagues, classroom discipline, or the school.
What drove me out of the classroom was the constant pressure from assessments, target setting and paperwork. The thing I'd gone into teaching for became secondary. The pupils were backgrounded in favour of bureaucracy and league tables.
Two things finally ended it for me: I was told I could not use my own schemes of work any more - they had to be the ''approved ones'', forcing me to teach in a certain way. And one mega-stressed day I drove all the way to the school without remembering how I got there.
That was in Summer 1999. So have things got any better? Absolutely not. Anecdotally, I read:
1. Teachers are hemorrhaging out of the profession due to stress and overload.
2. Many Academy school are quietly removing SEN and MLD pupils from their rolls as they take up too much time/resources and lower the GCSE pass rates.
3. Teachers are being asked to take on subjects in which they have little or no expertise. (DFE figures show that in 2014, 18% of lessons were taught by teachers insufficiently qualified in that subject)
4. Some Academy schools are employing teachers with NO QUALIFICATIONS at all.
5. The importance of testing and inspection has grown out of all proportion.
And all the time the profession is being told it is truculent, lazy, oppositional, and uncooperative by a government that 'claims' it has the kids' best interests at heart. Parents are being frightened by reports of lower attainment, poor numeracy and literacy skills, global league tables in which the UK isn't in the top 10.
Schools are wonderful places. They look after YOUR kids from 8.30am to 4.00pm, often longer. In some schools they give them FREE breakfasts and lunches. They expose them to books, computers, the past, the present, the world of knowledge. They model the global community. They teach behaviour, tolerance and unity. They are staffed by human beings with feelings and families, just like you.
Next time you hear a government minister speak disparagingly, or read an article that slates the profession for some perceived fault, ask yourself: Would I do a job with so little thanks or appreciation? And if your answer is 'never in a million years', then be thankful you don't have to.
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When I was young(er!) education was primarily done AT HOME, by your parents. School was for providing knowledge, open your mind, etc. Basic education was done at home. Today parents are blaming teachers for their OWN faults, their own incapacity of elevating and educating decent human beings. Kids have now the possibility of suing their own parents if they don't get what they want. O temporra o moresReplyDelete
Yep..the culture of total entitlement has gone far too far.Delete
Our children are so precious, and gloriously unique, and yet the government insists on herding them, force-feeding information (that has nothing to do with learning to think). One of my daughters is a primary school teacher; she has three small children (all school age) and yet won't go back into teaching because young children need a relationship with a teacher who works full-time, and she can't do that and be a good mum. Another great teacher lost. Utterly bonkers.ReplyDelete
I struggled with daughter in Year 10 and teaching fulltime. I stayed the course for 2 years because she was the first cohort to cop University fees ( another blog?) and I wanted too save every penny so that she wouldn't end up in debt. Today's poor students will never get OUT of debt! What a legacy!Delete
I started teaching in 1972 in a Junior school. I was left with my class of 7 year olds all day to teach what I liked when I liked. We had no classroom assistants, no non-contact time, 41 children in the class. There was no syllabus, just to use the Maths textbooks you were given and the Usborne history book gave you the era. It was idyllic.ReplyDelete
I burned out in the same decade as you. I have found it hard to explain to others my disappointment at not being allowed to inspire the kids but you've explained it well. I hated having to teach to dull and lacklustre guidelines. If schools truly are still wonderful places, then it is in spite of, not because of, the government regulations.ReplyDelete
That's TWO talented teachers lost. There are only 2 of my group still in teaching - that's from a cohort of 26. Makes you think.Delete
I qualified n 1982 and left in 2000 to work in the education department of the local council. Having moved o France I am teaching English (NOT in school) and loving doing what I'm good at (teaching) without the crap that mainstream education in the UK has to put up with. I couldn't do that now.ReplyDelete
My daughter is a high school teacher. I am going to share this with her. To be honest, I worry about her sanity sometimes. She teaches in Holland and the problems are the same. As a freelance ESL and EAP teacher, I've never taught in a school and I wouldn't want to, but I have so much admiration for those who do.ReplyDelete
thanks Val. I think my health definitely suffered both during training and during teaching. Happier tutoring.Delete
Great post, and I couldn't agree more, Carol. Add 'blame the teacher' to 'blame the parents/mother' when things go wrong. When you have an education system run by politicians, not educationalists, this is what happens. I like the Finnish system,where the children start later, and aren't tested till 14, and they have some of the best results in the world.ReplyDelete
One of the meanings of the Latin root of education, educare, means to bring forth, but in the system we have, all we bring forth is the ability to pass a certain test, and certainly don't cultivate a sense of wonder or curiosity at the many amazing things to be discovered in this world. There, thing I've said enough! :)
Cannot fault your comment! I also think they start far too young and it puts so many off education for the rest of their lives!Delete
It's an important job, teaching. Unfortunately, it's also one that often seems not to get much respect from governments.ReplyDelete