Don’t Blame the Teachers; Think of the Kids

Isn’t it sweet how Gove and Clegg look so chummy in their recent publicity shots for their grand announcement about the revamping of the exam system? Isn’t it wonderful how they’ve worked together to over-come the malaise in the education system to rescue standards and improve kiddies’ chances?

Did you read the twaddle in yesterday’s papers? They know about education, about the scandal of re-sits and re-takes and all about English course-work, which actually, boys, no longer exists. It was flushed away in the recent over-haul of English courses, leaving us with the travesty that’s just occurred.

Yet again politicians are interfering with education. Gove has already imposed his will on Primary school curriculum and now he is doing the same for the exam sets for secondary students. Has he talked to a teacher? Does he know what it’s actually like in schools in the UK? No, is the answer. He thinks we are the problem and we have failed the children. We have dumbed everything down in a search for the bottom, in our desperate quest for improved grades and places on the league tables.

Here’s the thing: teachers don’t have a say in what happens in schools. Some collection of people miles above them in the food-chain make the decisions, usually without consultation, or with that faux consultation where your choices are all bad. We just get to carry out orders. It’s more like a warzone, where the generals and commanders sit miles back from the action but tell us what to do, especially what we’re doing wrong. We’re the ones who go out to be shot. Remember Gallipoli?

I’ll tell you what we’re doing wrong- we’re failing generations of kids by this constant measuring and examining. What other country is as obsessed with testing and examining as the UK is? All Gove’s research should have told him that social mobility is not improved by exams. We’re now going to fail oodles more by this retrograde step – the EBacc – which will push the poorest students further away from uni or decent choices about their futures. We will have a 2 tiered system, where some subjects are valued, and therefore some skills, and some subjects are not.

Wither Music and Art, DT and ICT? Where are the creative, making subjects in this brave new education world? Gove and Clegg have thrown us backwards, not taken us forwards. Young people need to think for themselves, be equipped for a changing, evolving world, not just know facts or recite poems (although all of that is nice). They need to be creative, resilient, tough. They should be able to enjoy a range of subjects at school to know what they’re good at, to make choices about their futures based on interest and skills. They should be able to learn without everything being about an exam at the end of it.

Have Gove and Clegg thought of the current batch of students who have just suffered through the latest exam debacle, only to be told their qualifications aren’t actually worth anything? That, really, as everything’s been dumbed down, they are just dumb, dumber than those who were educated in the good old days, when rigor and standards meant something? Seriously, why do we listen to these men?

These fools are busy telling me I’m responsible for the failures of their system. They tell me my students are dumb and unworthy. They’re telling me my daughter’s GCSE’s aren’t worth having, not to mention her choice of A level subjects.

These fools haven’t the first idea and as soon as people realize Education is simply a political football, a way for politicians to grandstand and stay in power and we ignore them, we’ll actually be able to look after the students, teach them things worth knowing and be much better off.

Parents, teachers, students: we’re all in it together, not the politicians. It’s time to tell them where the fuck to go.

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3 Responses to “Don’t Blame the Teachers; Think of the Kids”

  1. John S Says:

    Even if reform is sometimes needed it should clearly be with teachers’ input, and most important, it should not denigrate existing exams. If it does it undermines so many children who are doing their best in the existing system.

  2. Glennis Says:

    Good one, Jackie. Exams and their results should never determine a student’s future, but, through life, everyone has to jump hoops, do things that seem senseless and irrational, so “exams” do have a role to play in life in a broad sense. Students need to be educated not only for life-long learning in a dynamic, technological world, but also learn how to cope, to enjoy, to be happy – and to be creative and tolerant. Because that is how the world changes – hopefully for the positive – by individuals who are well-rounded and grounded, who have experiences in their formative years to relate, get on top of personal issues and understand global issues, so they can refine understanding each day.
    Be interested to know how adult learners are helped in UK? As teachers know, if a student isn’t open and ready to the concepts deemed THE subjects to teach and are examinable at a cetain age, then how do they ever get on in the rest of life? The attitude of G&C together with other politicians is ensuring there will always be plenty of work for counsellors , church charities, police and so on – and dare I state it, teachers!

    • jactherat Says:

      OMG – where do we start to sort out Education – there is little hope for those who fall by the wayside here, it’s all or nothing. No flexibility – all onward ho and it’s desperately depressing.

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