I have a daughter who teaches. And she is good; a fact acknowledged by all colleagues, not just a proud dad. Recently she was 'Ofsteded' and was 'marked down' or whatever its called because she deviated from a lesson plan. Now this is only the bare bones of the story . But it has since been explained to me by several 'associates' as to how teaching has changed since my day.
I taught in secondary education for almost twenty years. For various reasons I was thought of as 'good with the bottom end'. Referred to thenadays politely as 'Remedials' and less politely all sorts of names by some. (I did also teach some so-called top classes in case anyone wonders.)
The following comes to mind when I think of the penchant for rigid set patterns and unbending formality; think on Mr Gove. Is it as bad as it sounds, dear teachers; please tell me. I suspect I would not last long in modern secondary education.
Four lessons from my obviously misspent teaching career. It may have been called Lifeskills. There again it might have been deemed PSE. (Such 'subjects' were often taught under sufferance and changed their names regularly. I loved the job in the main but eventually decided I'd had enough one Thursday afternoon, period five. But that's another story.)
One. A morning spent in court. Great fun in some ways.Some of the group had far more experience of court than I had. Hopefully those who hadn't learnt something. To be recognised and waved to from someone in the dock (ex-pupil) strange, sobering, embarrassing, educational, take your pick.
Two. Listening, with rapt attention to ex-pupil Jane aged eighteen, a pupil three years previously. Two little children in tow, an expert so young on the perils of life as a single parent. Listening in the same class Barbara and Mavis. Who. at the end of the afternoon, Friday, will travel to Skegness with older boyfriends and stay in mothers static caravan, unsupervised. Travelling home on Sunday evening and on Monday morning sit in Mr Stevens English Literature class. Where we will all study the idealistic love on offer in Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice.
Three. Mark, ex-pupil, professional session musician, aged twenty-five. In a steady relationship, one child, unmarried. Enthralls the class by playing his guitar with gusto. Less entralling tales of a professional musicians life. Of being restrained and arrested in a German concert hall toilet whilst 'injecting'. By the way, Mark was not injecting drugs; certainly not illegal drugs, he is a diabetic, obviously not immediately apparent to German security staff. Nevertheless Mark made good money, certainly compared to a teachers salary. What a pity it was all embezzled by a dishonest agent whilst Mark played with a group on his frequent soiries in Europe.
Four. Craig, born with Achondroplasia (a form of short limbed dwarfism). Difficult for him, Craig was not the greatest scholar the school has ever known. But a school career survived with fortitude and humour. Shortly after Craig left school he ran away with a circus when it visited Derby. As was the case with the pupils already mentioned we kept in touch Several years later I sat in the staffroom eating sandwiches; routine sandwiches; routine for a routine event. When out of the blue, so to speak. down the school drive appeared a large circus lorry, complete with equally large trailer. Craig fullfilling my request to visit school and tell it 'how it is' on leaving school. Craig, you were the biggest and best in school that day!
Just four memories of many that spring to. mind. I have no regrets and make no apologies. But I suspect today's rigidity in teaching would not be for me; and it's more the pity.