Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Lack of Debate

‘Some Random Thoughts’ posted,

‘It’s a real shame this site doesn't get the comments that Frank Chalk does. It would be good to see some interesting debate, from educated people, instead of the mixture of religious nut jobs, and BNP members that seem to be making up the readership over there!’

After I mentioned Frank Chalk the man himself was in touch, apparently the link didn’t work, it should have gone to the review of ‘It’s Your Time Your Wasting’. I found his book a ‘breath of fresh air’ in one way. As I wrote,

‘Teachers will identify with one of the central themes, management in denial – the generals miles away from the front line whilst the Poor Bloody Infantry suffer in the mud-filled trenches dodging the bullets and incoming artillery shells.’

However, his solutions really are the ‘Daily Mail’ rant. One thing I do admire him for though, he got out of teaching and some of his ‘supporters’ who think all children on council estates are scummy chavs should do the same thing.

In my reply to ‘Some Random Thoughts’ I mused about the lack of debate,

‘What does this say about the teaching profession? Sometimes I wonder.’

Mrs D posted,

‘It says that we like to leave our work at work and chill out when at home. There is plenty of debate when we are actually at school. However, debate rarely means action which is what people actually want.’

No problem there, most days and certainly at weekends I do just want to chill out, but there’s also days when I want to ‘rage against the dying of the light’. Ofsted, SATs, bureaucracy, consultants, targets, strategies, the list is pretty endless.

As for debates in schools I don’t really know, it varies. In my school the staff all sat there and accepted tests every six weeks, I was a lone voice of protest. I’ve boycotted the staff room ever since.

I agree about action being louder than words but where is there any prospect of action? Only in individual schools i.e., TLRs. But look at the NUT national ballot to boycott SATs only a 20% turnout, partly due to apathy, partly fear and a large factor that the NUT leadership has been asleep for twenty years.

The reason I started this blog was to stir debate and even though some of the main posts appear on the TES web site there is little discussion. The TES Staffroom (over 295,000 registered users) is the only site where teachers can participate, the unions don’t do it, nor, unsurprisingly that ‘voice of the teachers’ the General Teaching Council. The only problem is that it tends to be the trivial, trite and bizarre that attract comment, here’s a biased selection from the Opinion section -

Dogs on leads - 86 posts

Joke of the Day - 365 posts

Missing Toddler Thread – 5270 posts

Girl Power!? - 8 posts

The god delusion - 601 posts

Sports cars with old drivers! – 20 posts

Why do ordinary people look so weird? – 30 posts

Yeah’ ‘All Human Life is Here’ meanwhile our children are short changed by a sterile education system and half NQTs leave within five years.

Sorry to depress anyone who is reading this, but it is the end of term so, like most teachers, I’m a bit knackered, and it won't stop raining.


I have to agree with most of your comments. When I started teaching, well, working in general, I was more than happy to speak up for myself and others. However, a valuable lesson was learned - people like to moan but when you actually suggest doing anything about it, blank faces. Therefore, I like debating but this inevitably leads to frustration. We've become a passive generation - I blame Thatcher.
Again, I agree with much of what Mr Read says. It's a little sad he feels the need to boycott the staffroom. I find teaching can be a lonely profession, and that even if it's just complaining about what a load of little B***rds the kids are, the staffroom offers a place to unwind.

As for more constructive criticism, I was surprised at how little goes on in schools. I'm afraid to say that I've found unions little more than a talking shop to moan about - again little real help. Political debate about the direction of education is non-existent. I get more from my sixth-form - but then I do teach the history of education!

Oh well, I've only got three weeks to go and I'll reach that five year barrier Mr Red mentions. MAybe then I'm stuck doing this for life. It is a great job all things considered!
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