Remember the good old days when teaching was about pupils and human relationships? I don’t blame you if you don’t. In fact, it feels like centuries since talk about how to serve the development of young human beings was heard in the staff room and especially, in senior management meetings. Now it’s all targets and data. |
Schools are pushed to ‘drive up results’, forgetting that the results should, by definition, results from something. The focus is no longer on the process, but on the end of the process. More and more often, the students have become a set of numbers. In more and more schools senior management have locked themselves in their offices in front of spreadsheets and forgotten even the names of the students. A Dickens novel comes to mind, which I strongly recommend to all the Grandgrinds and Bounderbies out there. It’s not ‘girl number twenty,’ but ‘girl on 35.785% of where my spreadsheet says you should be’, but the concept is exactly the same.
The problem is of course, that the Government and senior management teams are going it alone, and bulldozing their way through the education system, with no support whatsoever from parents, teachers and pupils alike. The writing is on the wall; it’s on toilet walls in schools, it’s everywhere, but those in charge have forgotten how to read anything that is not numbers leading to a set of individual letters.
Do they really think that parents ask their pupils what percentage of a grade they have improved by when over the dinner table? No! They discuss the experience of school, and that is becoming more and more a negative experience. Because of the very Government and senior management teams.
Teachers are so snowed under with useless paperwork (which only serves the management, not the pupils!) to prove that they are doing well, to collect data for those who got out of teaching to sit in an office, because they did not want to or like to deal with young people, that they are paying less and less attention to the very reason they got into teaching in the first place: the education of young minds. More and more often when stopped in the corridors by needy students, they are rushing to a computer to write a report on how they are helping that student, instead of actually helping the student him/herself. More and more often when they are in class they are squeezed by an incredibly stressful vice: the pupils wanting something, senior management wanting the exact opposite.
In the meantime, senior management teams have grown out of proportion and front-line staff are being made redundant. In their incredible pomposity, some of these senior manager still believe they are ‘making a bigger difference’; and yes, they are, they are reducing the budgets for those who really teach and they are creating not support, but stress, in the classroom. I wonder if they remember when they were at school? Which ones were the classes they enjoyed most? Which ones were the lessons where they learnt most? Unless they are aliens from out of space, and from a planet that has completely skidded off its orbit and is flying at incredible (but statistically measurable and data is being collected by all the inhabitants on the speed and direction of their doomed journey every second of every hours, I would say day, but days have disappeared, as they lost sight by now of their sun!) speed towards its doom, then, they must remember that the best lessons where those when teachers and students had a common goal, where the teacher had time to read up on the subject in detail, rather than fill in spreadsheets to justify someone else’s job, where there was no frustration. And if you are frustrated by external factors, you bring it with you, and pass it round. Whatever has happened to common sense? It’s snowed under the Babylon Tower of useless data and parameters that is education today in the UK. Welcome back Utilitarianism (or not welcome, you choose) you didn’t work in Victorian times, I guess we can all see you not working now...
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