Thursday, 7 April 2011

Proper pukka education

The start of this week was pre-occupied with primary school selections. While we wait another year to apply as litte one's birthday is just after the cut off date, a lot of our friends have had their emails/letters telling them where their kids are going to be placed. Some were happy to have got their choices, and some were very unhappy and will be going along the appeals / waiting list route. Anyway, this mood had me tuning into Jamie's Dream School. I am not a fan of reality TV and think most of is shockingly bad. However, out of curiosity I had recorded the whole series to date but just not been in the mood to watch it as the Cheeky Chef annoys the bloody hell out of me.
This show is not about the reality of teaching, the state of our education system or the problems of disenfranchised youth. It's ENTERTAINMENT, car-crash gawping enhanced by the clever use of editing to make us see how awful some kids are and to feel huge amounts of pity for the quiet ones who want to get ahead but don't have a chance as their classes are constantly, continually disrupted. When a teacher is faced with 30 kids I can see why they have to exclude some for the good of the majority.
As far as I can tell, the only person with any expertise in secondary education is the head teacher "Dabbs" and he ends up in tears by episode 4 out of sheer frustration. I have heard many teachers leave the profession due to bad behaviour, but surely this head teacher has had to deal with difficult pupils before and even if it's not so concentrated, it only been a few weeks. Sheesh - what, if anything he is bringing to the process? (Have to say too, a head master who calls himself "Dabbs" is not really going to get much respect - in my day it was "Mr Edwards" (not his real name)). Oh god, I sound like David Starkey now :(
I have toyed with the idea of being a teacher but my goodness; I'm having second thoughts now.
That old adage "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" was shown to be bollocks - it used to be deregatory towards teachers as they were people who couldn't succeed in a given career and were reduced to teaching instead. But a teacher who is not good at a subject is never going to be a good teacher.
People Jamie found inspirational (but the kids didn't know mostly) struggled as they were not given one iota of secondary school teacher training. Even David Starkey and Mary Beard who are used to teaching undergrads struggled.
One thread that has come up again and again is the short attention span of the children, esp. when they are not in a hands-on creative class. This is often blamed on portable technology – however, being able to text/chat/surf whilst being in a meeting is a valuable skill enabling participants to be present in multiple locations at any one given moment - a fantastic skill that we shouldn't know huh ;)
I'm going to keep watching (and blogging and tweeting) until Jamie's irritating personality drives me to throw my mobile at the TV. It's pandering to my fears as a parent especially the fear that feral wildchildren will be waiting to lure my daughter away from her studies and woes betide me if I let them succeed in turning her to the dark, dumb side.
This show is not going to come up with any solutions that the brightest and best teachers, heads or educators in the UK haven't already thought. It's just going to tell that us what we know - give the resources the show has to each school in the UK, give the decent teachers some respect and support (get rid of the shite ones), change the size of classrooms, help the people who fall outside of the system and then we can all marvel as our kids are engaged with real life A&E, biodomes, the beauty of poetry and power of photography.

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