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Discussion in 'Primary' started by Jackieee, Oct 26, 2010.
But the "expected" progress is not?
No, it's not. There needs to be some kind of expectation about how much progress children will make, otherwise it's all too easy to excuse them making none whatsoever. "They haven't made any progress this year? Or the year before? Don't worry, children all learn at different speeds. There's no rush." And so it goes on until they leave year 6 and they're barely any further than they were when they left year 2.
There's a difference between "some kind of expectation" and one imposed by the government. You really are very naive, jlgt. Where on earth do you thinl that the actual (as opposed to "some kind of!) expection comes from? It comes from the very notion which you admit is arbitary, the need to maximise the number of L4s by Year Six!
You really don't understand what I'm saying, do you? My whole argument is that, time and time again, many teachers deliberately politicize their discourse in order to avoid talking about what is actually important to us on a day-to-day basis, i.e. the way in which we teach the children in our classrooms. The reason they do this, I would suggest, is because they are more interested in fighting ideological battles than they are in what they must see as the more unglamorous business of actually teaching their children. Why, when the issue of children's progress is being discussed, as it is on this thread, do you and your anti-centralist cronies feel the need to bleat on for the umpteenth time about "imposed targets" and the "OFSTEDing of teaching" and blah blah blah? Who cares? You've all been banging on about it for years, and nothing's changed. Why are you so obsessed with framing everything in these terms? I mention that I believe that every child has the right to make progress at school, and that teachers should be not be let off the hook if this does not happen (a fairly uncontroversial notion, you might think), but for you this is an opportunity for political point-scoring - "Ah! But the whole concept of "progress" is a Blairite conspiracy designed to punish teachers!" Don't be ridiculous.
You claim that anyone that disagrees with your enlightened view of the iniquities of the education system is naïve; actually, I'm perfectly aware of what goes on, thank you - I've just heard it a million times, and I'm sick of hearing about it. I want to get on with actually doing the best job I can in the classroom, and not casting myself as some kind of tragic Citizen Smith figure who is standing up for oppressed teachers against the evil state. We've tried that; it didn't work. The more we go on doing that, the less we are actually focusing on who we should really be concerned about - not the poor, downtrodden teachers, but the children.
Have you been teaching long jlgt27?
Gosh, jlgt, you've moved into rant mod, haven't you? May I suggest next time that before embarking on the ascent up the centralist soap box, you actually read my post?
Please don't try to depoliticise education by hiding behind the children. Like it or not, what happens in the classroom is heavily influenced by politics. The UK education system used to called a national system, locally administered. The last government threw that notion out of the window and we're still dealing with the consequences. To attempt your discussion without reference to it is simply nonsensical.
It is precisely because I set the teaching at the heart of the school that these particular battles must be fought and won. Don't try to claim the moral high gorund for centralism.
You appear to have strayed into ad hominem debate, not for the first time. Still, only to be expected in a rant!
First, I have never suggested that it is acceptable for children not to make progress at school. However, it's a simplistic notion to say that on every occasion (lesson? minute?) that they don't, then this is always the fault of the teacher. It is sometimes, of course.
That would of course, be a ridiculous notion, I entirely agree. Can you point out where I suggested this?
May I suggest that you do something about it then?
Have we? Do enlighten me.
Now, please go back and read my actual posts; I'm sure you'd find the experience rewarding.
wolfpaul it is late and I haven't read all the posts but I think to be fair to him he was objecting to my posts and language rather than yours - I could be wrong. It I were not a classroom teacher and were not at this point of dynamc equilibrium between liberty to respond creatively to children and bring to them a wide and rich curriculum which i am charged to do. Being both a part of my professional role. If I were not there and had I not been a senior manager and a one time OFSTED game keeper now returned to be poacher I would feel inclined to join him in the focus on classroom teaching. I focus on the progress of all my children every day. I object to the simplistic terms this is often measured in.
Why because yes I was trained at the beginning, given a provisional license but I have grown over the years, my driging skills have taken me far afiels. I have learnt to listen more and to realise that if I could only do that better and with a clearer mind then I could better respond to the children. To listen though requires time and space, the sort of time and space each of us creates in the busy classroom mileu. Seeking too quick, too simplistic achievements doesn't allowlonger term, more flexible, interwoven, more resilient and stronger teacing to develop int the longer run.. This is the reality of the teachers tha children encounter everyday. It is not I would suggest that there is a hige body of inept, uncaring, lazy, politicised, bleating teachers. It is not that the children should remain the same as they did at level 2 all through primary school, but how often did or does this really happen? I, by the way, am probably a level 3 in maths evn now, and in writing with enough connectives or punctuation I am probably likewise but I feel I have progressed in other ways. Give me time and opportunity to flourish in other ways. Which is why the theory of the personalised currciculum, individual learning sounds so attractive and yet so incompatible with such a standards driven, measuring system. It is surely this that we teachers on the ground are trying to question through the dense layers of obscufication that now clog our daily lives.
II simply ask why there are so many people to tell others what to do? ANd yes there is an awful lot of money put into all levels above the pure teachers. Who whilst as you say we maybe do all have the same aim in mind but when your job depends on statistics and performance plans and goodness knows what then you will not be lead by the classroom teacher who is actually on the ground in the crux of the matter. You are rather going to look how to promote your own worth, your very essential existence and I just think that has got bloated into a large cloud that sits over the whole system. Ideally yes we want the same things but I suggest that there are vested interests in all the added levels that work against the healthy functioning of the classrom teacher who, yes at the moment is the most important. The one who works day-to-day with the new edge, the very leading edge of the wave of tomorrow, is the teacher. Why not fight for that to be at the centre of the system.
You might be right...but we have had this model of yours for years talking about failure, laudably urging equality, measuring frantically to ensure all parts increase equally. Has it worked? Does it work? Can it possibly work? Do we continue with more of the same? I don't know. I knwo what inspires me to teach everyday and it sin't externally imposed progress or targets. It is a vision of the growing life inside each child I meet each day. Who in good faith accept that I have their interest in mind and accepts that with all my failings I do intend the best for them. They show me why they actually need a teacher and my challenge is to grow to be that teacher.
I simply suggest that the accountability now drives the system rather than the encouragement of original, untried, creative, thoughtful, considered, risky, reflection rich, enjoyable, opportunities within the rigours involved in teaching a class group of young children. To give back to the teacher a sense of great responsibilty, a sesne of the unique and important role in society. TO charge our imaginations with a vision of the evolving human with whom we work that both mirors us and shapes our own growth as teachers and human beings
........... And sometimes to let the fallow ground recover, ground which may look from the outside as barren, but to the inner eye of the teacher a seeded ground pregnant with a future crop. Please tell me that is what my job is and yes tell me about different ways that might be effective in bringing something to children, be a critical friend but don't try to measure me definitively in a quality assurance, delivery and outcome model that doesn't know the seasons of the teaching soul, that grows and learns and matures throughout its teaching life.
Nope, he was quite right, it was his posts and language that I was objecting to.
But I have to say, yohanalicante, I'm sorry that I reacted so badly to your first post on this thread; I still don't agree with everything you have said, but there is something about the fire and passion with which you write about teaching that I find very inspiring. And thank you for being so gracious to me when I really don't deserve it. Maybe that passion is something that I'm trying to provoke in order to help me question and clarify my own views, I don't know; it is certainly more effective in doing so than the same old bitter, jaded orthodoxy that I hear everywhere else and which only serves to further entrench my own position.
thanks. The very fact that you bother to discuss in a forum late at night and with such strong conviction means you've got a fire in your belly. I think for too long that fire has been dampened down by dead wood of well intentioned initiiatives that have to be SMART (do you remember that), a kind of bread and water diet which has to treat me like the guy in cell block 52 who might just escape and do something crazy like let children build a tent in he classroom and play treasure island for their primary life. With a bit more fire and the oxygen of some great ideas and the freedom to burn a bit, maybe individaully we can be the hot spot for wherever we are. Forget the suited and the booted box checking, fast-track agenda management men with whole school initiatives and GTC encouraged inflated pomposity. Classroom teachers and children can provide the bonfire and the fireworks. I hope you get more chance to burn.
Perhaps the gale force winds of these economic times will prove to be an autumn that blows away some of the litter and gets air into the damp places. Now there's a bonfire night wish! What about the head who has put story-telling at the heart of her primary school. Fifteen minutes every day, every class of every year group. (Someone sent it to me from teachers' TV as I don't normally like to look at permanent soap operas that push the accepted line of what a classroom and a lesson should look like - forgive me if that is a sweeping generalisation) Anyway there is a head TEACHER reconnecting children with the shadows of ancient flames, reflecting the light of life in the eyes of children and teachers (well at least I think it might be like that) when maybe someone sits down with children and makes some meaningful traditional language enrichment that brings them back into the story telling tribe from which we are drawn. To give them back a little of their fishermen and hunter heritage not just teach them to be little bureacrats with paper targets and pencil arrows to be fired from deskbound rulered bows.
OK, now that I've calmed down a bit I'm going to have another go at making my argument in a slightly more balanced, considered way...
Of course there are "battles" that need to be fought (and, we hope, won). But when we talk to each other about teaching - in forums like this, in the staff room, in the pub, wherever - our strong personal feelings about these "battles" (which are understandable, given what is at stake) mean that our discourse tends to become generalized very quickly, and discussion of political principles soon takes precedence over the specific and the day-to-day. This is not to say that I think for a moment that we should attempt to de-politicize how we think about education, just that if every issue is framed in these terms and these terms alone, then I think we are at risk of limiting what we as teachers are able to achieve, as I will try to explain...
As I'm sure you're aware, WolfPaul, I actually agree with you and others here on many issues a lot more than it seems, but my crude attempts to be confrontational are borne out of a genuine desire, however clumsily realized, to challenge my own and others' assumptions about what is happening when we frame the issues within teaching in this way.
No wonder teachers who have been trained recently cling on to the various security blankets that the government provides, because they are offered no coherent alternative, even if they are actually desperate to find out what one might be. All they are presented with are vague, gnomic pronouncements about "experience" and "professional judgement" being more valuable than centrally-imposed systems or methods. Actually, I am not disputing the truth of these statements (even though it might seem like that) - I just think that the way in which these statements are made is yet another thing that is driving a wedge between newer and older teachers, something that we cannot afford to do when we need to be uniting for a common cause.
Faced with the security of the rigid, familiar system in which they have been trained, and the apparent uncertainty that is currently being offered as an alternative, new teachers (and new heads and new senior leaders, for that matter) will choose the former time after time. This will go on happening every year, and soon the "battles" will be lost, simply because of the numbers involved. My argument is that, in order to turn this around, we need to do things differently from the way we are currently doing them, as its is clearly not working. Teaching has changed, and it simply isn't going to cut it any more to say that anything goes; that there is no magic one-size-fits-all approach (which is true) and therefore that there are no effective methods or approaches that we can share with each other (which is not true).
Individuality and confidence in one's own judgement are obviously fine and worthy principles to uphold, but in order to be remotely attractive to new and inexperienced teachers faced with a bewildering set of pressures and expectations, these principles need to be backed up with specific, concrete suggestions about how to teach well to achieve good outcomes without toeing the party line. Not that we should be "prescribing" methods to each other, but that we should be proposing various alternatives for others to evaluate, adapt, and then share for themselves. Why should it all come from within ourselves? Do we have time for that to happen? Surely there is a middle ground between top-down diktats and leaving new teachers to work everything out on their own?
For example (and I don't mean to pick on any one particular poster here), the statement "I loathe any ‘system'", as made on the thread about the English Framework, is in itself not helpful to newer teachers (as others on that thread pointed out), or indeed to the poster asking the original question; an attitude like this - which I actually have plenty of sympathy with - is, when expressed in this way, only going to widen the divide between newer and older teachers. My point is, I suppose (and sorry for taking so long to make it), that we are more likely to win the "battles" that we are fighting if we put aside our politics from time to time to say things like this: "I think that any top-down system that seeks to ensure "coverage" in the teaching of English is flawed for these specific reasons... A more flexible and effective approach in your planning would be to do this, for example...". Surely this is a big part of what a forum like this is for - to share real examples of techniques and approaches that you have found to be effective? Or is that too close to being another version of the dreaded "good practice", with all the dreary, PowerPoint-presented, New Labour connotations that this phrase implies?
I agree with many elements of this... However at my current school, there has been mass underachievement because of bad teaching The results are showing this. Therefore, target setting and all its foibles have some value....