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Are some subjects just simply harder to teach than others?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by batea1958, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. OK let's have a good heated discussion about the relative highs and lows of our subjects...
    I want to know What are the easy subjects across the curriculum and does it change with year level? And does you age impact? Do young Gen Y staff fresh from uni have it easier than the baby boomers?

    Me? I'm a female baby boomer German teacher and have a skills based subject like PE, music, Drama that requires lots of talking (therefore NOISE) as well as stacks of marking like English and a need for high accuracy like Sci and Maths.
    I think my subject is pretty tough. And it's not in English so kids can't check at home or ask for help so easily...
    Who'd teach MFL ???
  2. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Thank you for the 'scientific angle' - very interesting! In languages we have trips to organise as well - very rewarding, but stressful. Do you not have Head of Physics, Head of Biology, Head of Chemistry to assest the overall Head of Department? This is a bone of contention at my school: they haven't replaced the Head of German but have just given that work to the Head of Department, who doesn't speak any German. Crazy, isn't it? But saves money I suppose.
  3. I found MattG's comments fascinating. I'm head of MFL in a school where there are only a handful of HODs as a costcutting ploy: we have combined Maths/Sci, combined, Eng/ Humanities, combined Arts (drama, music,art, tech) combined Health (PE, Sport, Food Tech). I get one free (75mins) a week to do my admin. the biggies get three frees but it's still enormous.

    There's no doubt in my mind that there's a direct link between how hard you have to plan/work/teach and how far the kids see your subject as relevant to their lives. If its down their list, you have to work harder at discipline , content , assessment, feedback, improvement, goal setting and on-task engagement each step of the way.

    However here in Oz ALL discipline is dealt with by HOYs. HODs do curriculum and the emphasis is much bigger here than UK as we have to respond to current educational research especially methodology and how to maximize lifelong learning. I taught from 1982-1999 in inner London and Brighton. Been in Melbourne since. I agree with MattG that Sci Maths have it tough too. I was in a Foods lesson team teaching cooking German Xmas cakes and was eft speechless how calmly my colleague coped with all those knives, pans and water everywhere! And flames!

    Here Langs are core till end of yr 8 but discussions going on about extending to yr 10 ... But there is heavy opposition from a lot of parents because "my kid will never go to Germany so what's the point and evbdy speaks English" that is really hard in class when kids just refuse to work.

    I often look enviously at PE colleagues. In Oz sport is God so running around the field ranks high as a student priority. And the staff tend to be fit tanned and cool. How do you compete with that.?
  4. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    We don't talk enough across departments, do we!
    And across countries - I didn't know you were all the way down in Australia!!!
    Didn't even know they teach German in Australia[​IMG] - I can see how some students would struggle to see the relevance....Do you have GCSE's and A-levels?
    PE is definitely a 'top subject' at my boys' grammar, and all the PE teachers are cool and popular. But personally I wouldn't fancy teaching PE and I'd be rubbish at it. Plus it's certainly not straightforward to control groups of boys running round a field, perhaps with javelins or other pieces of potentially dangerous equipment.
    I felt really sad at the end of school assembly a couple of weeks back when a few of the boys who I can't seem to motivate at all (year 9) came up to get prizes for a mock trial competition and for Duke of Edinburgh awards. Those same kids had also raised a whole load of money for Comic Relief. It made me think that those are good kids, and I've failed to inspire them whereas others succeeded. But then you can't succeed with everyone and perhaps if I'd had them since year 7 I'd have done better.
  5. Yes German is taught over here and in eastern Melbourne there are areas of German ex-pats/ refugees from post 1945. But there isn't the dominance of French German Spanish as in uk. Here langs are pretty evenly spread between French German Italian Greek Chinese Japanese Indonesian reflecting immigration/trade. Most schools offer one European and one Asian lang.
    There's a huge difference teaching here. For a start you are GUARANTEED you only teach 75% of week the remainder is free periods. Salaries are massively higher: I'm top of main scale because I'm old(!) It's called "expert 4" on $84k pa and graduates start on $57k pa. At the moment 64p=$1 so do the Maths it's a lot. Check out: http://www.aeuvic.asn.au/2012_teacherspay_table.pdf
    The scales / increments on the left are yearly so you do two years service as graduate then five yrs as accomplished and so on. We live in Victoria and these salaries are the lowest in Oz!!! Our union is suggesting strike action!

    Somehow when you have difficult groups (and believe me there are tough kids everywhere) you do overall feel better about yourself because teachers are well regarded here socially. In uk we always felt like doormats. Reading some posts on TES you wonder about the self esteem of staff who have calculators thrown at them by CHILDREN and get no backup. No other profession would have that situation.

    You do have tough inner city schools here but fewer. We don't have ofsted breathing down your neck. Accountability is through depts and annual checks from DHs and Heads. Lot of exam admin here too. Also Oz is BIG on teaching about styles and ways of learning, not just the subject content so you mark kids on things like Communication, Metacognition, Collaboration, Interpersonal Skills etc etc which is really interesting but of course adds extra layers to lessons.

    Secondary goes yr 7-12 (UK yr 8-13) with public exams in five subjects at yr 12 (18+) so no GCSEs so heavy pressure if you teach yrs 11 & 12. And with regard to "heavy" subjects in this thread ... Yes English Maths Sci teachers have it very hard here with the work load. Not many kids take PE to yr 12 so staff get off light with workload there. A lot of the hands-on kids leave with end of yr 10 certificate (GCSES) and get apprenticeships.
  6. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Sounds like a good life in Australia! I'm from Germany, so I always get the comparisons with teachers over there (higher salaries, fewer hours, more job security, much longer training), but I believe in finding happiness where you are, rather than in thinking the grass is greener on the other side. My best friend is in Sydney and we went there for her wedding and I wasn't attracted to the idea of living in Australia at all. I'd feel too cut off from Europe and would miss our landscape too much. You're Australian, aren't you?
    We thought we'd be starting to job-hunt in Germany as soon as our kids reach school age because we liked the idea of the German system for our kids. But as it happens our kids are now in English state schools and thriving there - 100% happy. So we've either been incredibly lucky or English schools are actually very good - for the kids in any case.
    A lot of our friends' kids are happy, too. The German newspapers are full of the problems that that German schools face - huge numbers of kids not able to master basic literacy and numeracy, an unfair grammar school system that separates kids too early and puts a lot of pressure on small children, German kids falling behind on international league tables, an education that lasts too long, and which has now been compressed from 13 years into 12 years, meaning more lessons and more pressure for the pupils. My sister has got her kids into a Montessori schools and my dad keeps telling me that more and more German parents are opting for private schools.
    My Australian friend keeps telling me how competitive Australian parents are, with some of them even putting their kids down for certain schools at birth, and how many private schools there are. Is that just Sydney?

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