Monday, October 08, 2007

Shooting An Elephant

Schools and Elephants

I was told a interesting story by my brother yesterday who is the head of Economics at what was a very good local, Comprehensive. Coming from the private sector , he is constantly amazed at the short hours and deluded attitudes of teachers who really believe they are all Robin Williams in Dead Poets society. This, in a system where many of the pupils are unable to read adequately when they leave .

The headline pass rate, % boys with five O levels including English and Maths , has dropped from a rather good 60% to 40 % over the last few years .Into this equation you usually have to feed the number with paid school meals which is an average intake or London with now below average outcomes. There are all the usual problem ,of course ,a level of motivation that is highly varied amongst staff; but the root from which this slump grows, is a lack of discipline .

The other day an incident happened that summed up the problem.. Newmania Junior was walking along a corridor when he saw two boys having a play fight . He told them to stop . They continued . He repeated the instruction requiring names . He was ignored and they would not give their names. He told them they would be in detention and demanded their identifications. At this point there were a number of other boys watching and the younger of the two simply said “Why don’t you shut up !”

You can see, can’t you, the implications for the boys that allowing anarchy of that sort has .Newms minor took action to ensure that the strongest possible punishment was meted out to the perpetrators . Some time later he discovered that aside from a chat about their attitude no action whatsoever had been taken............

In all the talk about policy, selection, and Whitehall levers we should never forget that the will to use existing powers must be there amongst the front line educators . At this time they are hopelessly infected with absurd visions of the’ child’, and in denial about their failure to provide the essential service they are paid for. The work of politics goes on at many levels and one thing we have to do, is reacquaint Teaching Colleges with Conservatism and its corrective to 60s Liberalism . The Upper Middleclass can accommodate self indulgence but it the end of all hopes for working class boys .

I do not think that teachers are dreadful people they are simply living in a dated orthodoxy There is opportunity to engage with them , but the Dave Sparts will have to be rooted out and ejected from class!

PS Excerpt from Orwell’s shooting an elephant

“when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the "natives," and so in every crisis he has got to do what the "natives" expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant

True a teacher does wear a mask and many fine teachers have always adopted a persona not their own. Why should they not . It’s the result that maters not the “honesty of the relationship with the pupil" . In many ways it does not matter what the elephant is . Uniforms, politeness , respect. Whatever it is though for discipline and learning to continues “The Elephant must be shot “ ....although Orwell at this stage did not agree ....

No comments:

Blog Archive