Tuesday, 5 February 2013

You Wouldn't Like My Style, Mr Gove.

    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.


Sueann said...

My DIL teaches now...first grade and she talks a lot of the frustration she faces! And the hours spent teaching them how to complete state exams which come every other month. What about reading, writing and arithmetic did they not get?

Helen Devries said...

Teaching today sounds soul destroying...for all involved.

CWMartin said...

I agree. These days, at least in America, you'd have to discipline a kindergartner as a terrorist for playing with a paper gun.

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Saz said...

everything changes...and definitely not for the better
my kids have done well...lots of hard graft and lucky with a great school and teachers, but not all so..


Julia Bentley said...

I often wonder if my teachers even remeber me from years ago. They have so many kids going in and out of their classrooms. It is nice to know some of use to make an imprint whether it be good or bad.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

You are right, it makes you wonder at times.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

sadly true but it still has its moments though twenty five years would be enough.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Interesting as always.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Life is seldom fair but you, I detect are a survivor . (like me I suspect.)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

I like your words and the way you say them. Of course you make an impression, the more so as time goes by.