Friday, 12 April 2013

Education education education

After a password-induced delay (for which, read: memory-fail-induced delay), a brief blog update.

I see in the news that there is distress about the slimming down of the curriculum, particularly the speed with which it is being introduced. According to the BBC, teachers in secondary schools are perfectly happy with the curriculum as it is. I find that pretty hard to believe, though perhaps it's not so much the curriculum as the sheer workload that teachers have to endure. Whether you have a marking-heavy workload at the upper end of the education system or a preparation-heavy workload with the younger children, all teachers work crazy hours that have nothing to do with finishing at 3 and 'enjoying' long holidays.

Which is why my experience this holiday has been even more distressing. As a private tutor, I tend to see children who are finding things harder, or whose parents think they are finding it harder, so perhaps I'm not speaking from the perspective of a fair sample. But of the four children I have been working with over this Easter break, three have effectively been told by their teachers that they're not good enough.

It's hard enough for teachers to get respect from difficult parents, the government and resentful workers who only see the official hours worked. When there are members of the profession who undermine the rest of us, calling their pupils 'stupid' to their faces or suggesting that 65% in an exam isn't good enough because some people will get 75%, it makes it impossible.

I don't know whether the syllabus should be changed or not; I grew up in Gove's 'fact-rich' environment and as the saying goes, it hasn't done me any harm. I don't know enough about the current curriculum in secondary schools to be able to say how useful it is. But this style of learning and examining doesn't suit everyone and I doubt that employers need their future employees to know the names and dates of accession of the English kings from William the Conqueror onwards. Even future history teachers need to be able to read and write. And telling children who can't jump through an inappropriate hoop (and yes, exam system, I'm looking at you here) that they're going to fail so why even bother trying, is unprofessional.

Just don't get me started on the schools' league tables....

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