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Classroom Secrets

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by madeupname1, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. Might as well get in early with this one!
    Cameras in a classroom, what a great idea!
    Of course having a camera crew and production team in the class will have absolutley no effect on how the pupils interact with eachother?!
    However, it was a good idea to show up that there is huge gap between what actually happens in a classroom and the parents perceptions.

  2. They used cameras fixed to the walls, there was no camera crew in the classroom.

    It was an interesting one to watch!

    I think that the teacher in question was very brave to do such a thing, not sure it was the wisest move in the world.....

  3. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Allowing for the fact that one school week was edited down to a one hour programme and the pupils were aware that the cameras were 'following them', it did raise some interesting issues.
    The programme focused on the behaviour of four pupils in a class of 24 - one girl and three boys.
    The misbehaviour of the girl involved being tired and off task, pulling funny faces etc behind the teacher's / class teaching assistant's back, for the attention of other children, and secretly writing rude words on a mini whiteboard.
    The misbehaviour of the three boys was much more in the face of the adults present and involved tactics to avoid doing work, significant learning difficulties, messing about with rulers etc, an argument over a toy car brought from home, playground incidents and difficulties with social relationships.
    The parents interviewed appeared to be surprised at the behaviour of their children, reacting with a mixture of amusement and concern. The parent interviewed on her own who was rarely able to attend school assemblies etc appeared genuinely upset about her son's low self esteem.
    The youngish head and staff who had apparently turned around a 'failing school' appeared to be trying to follow 'best practice' in relation to behaviour management, unless they were simply saying all those politically correct things for the sake of the cameras.
    Most significantly, there appeared to be an expectation by the parents interviewed, and perhaps the wider viewing public, that all children are more or less the same and should be performing equally well at school.
    The reality, of course, is that children vary greatly in ability, they have very different personalities and behaviour characteristics and their home background experience impacts significantly on how they behave, and perform, at school.
    I would like to hope that the viewing public, having watched this programme, would have a greater appreciation of just what a challenging job teachers do on a daily basis.
    However, having heard on the radio today that it is the job of the school to ensure all pupils are wearing suncream, I suspect there will still be those who will continue to blame schools, and teachers, for many of the problems in society.
  4. Having watched this programme last week I was tempted to post a comment but was not quite sure which forum to use. Also thought my views may be considered old fashioned so chose not to post! However having read an article in the press today about the programme which echoes my observations so decided to brave it and put my head above the parapet!!
    It is a very long time since my kids were in primary so I know things have changed but ......
    .......expecting young children to sit in small groups facing each other and to concentrate on doing individual work without chatting to others on their table for any period of time seems very demanding and possibly unrealistic?
    (Why is it felt that work done in groups is more effective than teacher led individual work? I teach sixth formers ( my students love the subject and the way I teach and they get cracking results) and whenever I suggest group work they all moan that they do not learn as effectively in that way.)
    The idea that you pair a child with good concentration next to an unruly child ...... does that mean that the "good" child is expected to get on with their own work and persuade the other child to work (hardly seems fair on the former!). A classroom laid out so that children can easily get up and wander about does not seem to encourage the inattentive child to remain seated.
    If Year 4 kids are not concentrating well and developing effective learning skills then what hope for their secondary education?
    As time goes on each new intake of my students seem to have continually reducing ability to concentrate for any length of time - could this have anything to do with the fact that they are used to sitting in groups, chatting and not expected to do tasks for any length of time?
  5. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    Primary children have been sitting in groups since I was in Primary school, in the early 80s...it's not a new concept.
  6. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    You're not based in Scotland are you? Thought so. You'd be condemned to living hell and no hope of promotion for uttering such heinous heresies against the great God CfE.

    You're not the first secondary teacher I've heard expressing such views.
  7. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    The teaching methodologies used in most UK primary schools have been in place since the late 1960s.
    They were developed by Jordanhill College, and others, in response to the Primary Memorandum 1965 (Scotland) and the Plowden Report 1967 (England and Wales). One of the key principles was a child-centred approach to learning, with an integrated curriculum in which children were encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning. (There isn't much new in education.)
    Primary teachers were expected to teach pupils in groups, or as individuals, especially for English Language and Mathematics, although there were also opportunities for whole class teaching. Teachers were also advised to have pupils face towards the front of the classroom when this was appropriate.
    For this to work effectively, children had to be taught how to complete learning tasks on their own so that the class teacher could get on with group, or individual, teaching. This meant that pupils had to be able to move about the classroom responsibly, without disturbing other classmates, in order to collect, return, mark, research and discuss their work. For younger children, constructive play was also a very important part of the curriculum.
    In the hands of a skilled primary teacher, and with children who had been well trained and knew how to behave, this worked well. Visiting secondary teachers were often amazed that primary pupils were able to work in this way without direct input and supervision from a teacher at the front of the class. Of course it didn't always work as well, for example if the class teacher had poor classroom management or particularly challenging pupils.
    Of course, when pupils transferred to secondary, they had to adjust to different teaching methodologies. For much of the last 40 years that meant learning to sit in a classroom with desks in straight rows. As one secondary colleague put it when discussing S1 pupils: "They have to learn to sit down, shut up and do as they are told." (They didn't tell them that on their pre-secondary visit.)
    To be fair to secondary schools, they often have to take in pupils from a large number of primary schools where teaching and behaviour standards can vary so what is possible in a primary school setting, where pupils have one teacher all day every day, is not so easy where they have a succession of specialist teachers throughout the day and week.
    With a CfE, it is, of course, secondary schools that are being expected to adopt aspects of the primary school methodology, rather than the other way around. It also should not be underestimated that there have been societal, and media, developments over the last 40 years that have had a detrimental impact on the attention span of pupils.
    What the TV programme focused on was the behaviour of just four pupils in a class of 24, in one school, over a period of one week, with little coverage of any actual teaching (a bit like Grange Hill).
    It would be interesting to film a secondary school class, being taught using secondary teaching methodologies, to see if any pupils were 'off task' or disruptive.
    Talking to some of my secondary colleagues, the challenges they face are not all that different and, often, a lot worse.[​IMG]
  8. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    Indeed. I do agree that it was brave of the teacher / Head Teacher in question to put their school "on the line" in the way they did.

    My comments were meant as a criticism of the CfE zealots and not of primary methodologies. The issue is whether the Plowden / Primary Memo techniques which were introduced as a welcome response to the methods common in the 50s and before are still as applicable today in a completely different cultural context.

    My view is dead simple: good teaching is anything which works well in a particular teacher's classroom or in the context of a particular school. There is room for child centred learning AND for the "traditional" teacher centred approach. And the latter is much more common in primary schools, I suspect, than the CfE zealots would admit. As you say, the key difference is the structure of the school day which means that our primary colleagues MUST apply a variety of approaches throughout the day or the teacher and the kids would simply go nuts!

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