No matter who I talk to in the teaching profession, and, to be honest quite a few other professions, mainly, but not uniquely public sector, the mantra is the same. The life of the professional teacher, is blighted by the obligation to fulfill the requirements of the various services initially provided to support the teacher in the classroom. Teachers they are increasingly hampered by the incessant demands of those who surround them, and that’s everyone from, government, to management, to other staff and parents.
The Unions meet this week and there is talk of public sector action, the word “respect” is being bandied about. Christine Blower has stated “Teachers are being undermined by a government whose almost daily criticisms and erosion of working conditions and pay, coming on top of previous attacks on pensions, are unacceptable. This negative approach to the profession has to stop.”….Teachers are embattled, absolutely everything they have done since I joined secondary education (and I mean as a pupil) has been wrong and in all that time education has been a political football, comprehensive education, standards, GCSEs, Curriculum 2000 and the recent shark fest of tuition fees, grade inflation, Ofsted, OfQual, international students and the almost personal attacks on teachers’ pay and pensions.
At the same time staff must engage with new technology, with almost no training and limited contemporary kit, they must collect data, meet targets and, as ever, institute the latest educational theory forced through, not by educationalists, but by politicians. Often all this is against their better judgement, and done with no consultation with them at all, from phonics to selection, teachers must switch emphasis from year to year, as if their knowledge do the classroom is totally irrelevant. Imagine telling the F1 Grand Prix Drivers’ World Champion that you have decided that his car is no longer good enough, so you would like him to drive a 1950s model, because obviously, cars were better in the Fifties!
Like all analogies you can pick holes in it and this is not intended to offer disrespect to the support teams who struggle to keep pace with the demands placed on them by managements and a government that doesn’t really understand the complexity of the tasks they impose. However, increasingly many rely too heavily on advice that focuses on the needs of the task and not the needs of the classroom.
In the end the teacher or lecturer must deliver the lesson, it is they who are made vulnerable to system failure, to having to change a lesson half way through because the system has failed. It is the teacher who must work round the constraints of an over zealous firewall, and find different ways to deliver the same content. It is the teacher, who once used to keep a simple paper register and must now, collate electronic registers, enter them, often doubly, and track student progress through increasingly complex mechanisms that are not compatible with each other. They must generate an increasing number of performance reports, taking on tasks that should be defined as admin, when teaching is the activity that delivers the result, brings in the students and perpetuates the jobs. They do all this in the hope that one day all this will ease their burden not increase it.
And on that note might I point you to my new blog, which will separate some of the education rantings from the media and reviewing elements of this blog. www.MYFLIPPINGCLASSROOM.com is an extension of the post I wrote a while back: Flipping Heck introduced to this blog to yet another set of demands on the teacher in the classroom and that has inspired my effort to expand into a dedicated blog for dedicated teachers!