There was an insightful and thought provoking article in the Guardian recently that every parent should read. It shows just how much teachers are in crisis.
Before jumping to the conclusion that this is just teachers moaning again and they should appreciate the money and the holidays it would serve us better to understand just how much this crisis is affecting our children – your child.
According to the article teachers are increasingly feeling that they ‘are the focus of bitter hostility from ministers and educational high-ups, and the victims of an increasingly oppressive machine. Schools are swamping their pupils and staff in data and targets, leaving no room for the kind of human values that were once at the centre of what teachers did. These aspects of education, teachers say, also distort their priorities, so filling in spreadsheets sometimes takes precedence over actually teaching kids’.
And this is the reason why so many teachers are leaving the profession and it is often the conscientious and dedicated ones who are because they are the ones who feel that they cannot do justice to what they need to be doing as teachers – as human beings; teach humanely. Those that stay are ultimately going to be reduced to those who manage somehow not to care too deeply for the individual but just for ticking boxes, those who can tolerate the climate of oppression described in the article and those who are comfortable turning a blind eye to the mental health issues that this system is causing our children which I wrote about before.
Is this really the climate that develops motivated and intelligent young people who are enthused and inspired by their education towards learning and working independently? Which is what we want for our children isn’t it?
Or as parents are we just concerned that our kids are getting the grades and are off our hands in school for a while?
Even the teachers care more for the kids than that. The writer goes on to say;
All the teachers I meet return time and again to one key argument: that though some of their concerns are about the profession, in the end they are also about the kids they teach. Everyone has anecdotes they say shine light on the contorting effect all those targets and assessments are having on children, and on how the cold, mechanistic teaching methods are beginning to be reflected in the way children don’t just work, but think.
I guess if you’re reading this you care too. But what can we do about it?
Apart from radical options such as home schooling, as we and increasing numbers of parents and teachers are doing so that our children do not have to learn in this unnatural and oppressive regime, we need to stop abdicating responsibility for education to politics and get involved.
We need to make it clear to our MPs that this is not what we want education to be. Write to them, make a fuss, make our dissatisfaction public. We need to get politics out of education and demand that it is dealt with objectively – not politically. We need to decide what it is we do want for our kids and how that is to be delivered, monitored and assessed – if at all. We need to be clear about our priorities; personal development or results, the balance between the two. We need to understand that kids need a whole range of experiences, not just those which can be measured. And we need to have far more compassion for the teachers.
Teachers are the kingpins of our children’s education. If they are feeling threatened, oppressed, unhappy, stressed by unattainable demands, then the kids are going to. If we want it to be different we need to support teachers in whatever action they take to help it change. And not forget that most of them are in fact on the side of the children. Same as us!