Thursday, 11 June 2009

I think this must be a record

Surely this is slightly ridiculous... I've just seen the first "back to school - buy new uniform" advert on TV. This is far, far worse than Easter eggs on Boxing Day.


However twee all this Twitter language is, I'm enjoying tweeting about on Twitter (see - annoying and cloying all at once!) If you're on Twitter and are an educationalist or sympathiser, then do join the Tweecher twibe (I know, I know...). You will find it at:

It's actually really inspiring to be in contact (via 140 character updates) with teachers who are so dedicated to putting ICT to fantastic use. And also hilarious to know that while I'm procrastinating over marking by arsing about online, there are others doing exactly the same. Plus there are journalists posting links to education-related news stories as they break. A fully rounded experience on a flat screen!

I will post some of my tweets (arghh! the twerminology!) on here at some point soon, but until then, get on over there!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Foolish fools?

I live in a shroud of paranoia. Don't get me wrong - I am very dedicated to being a good teacher because I believe educating our young citizens is one of the most important responsibilities in our society. But I do rant about the daily grind of what can be, at times, a difficult job - made even more difficult by poor attitudes, lack of resources and annoying colleagues and bosses. And at no point would I ever want to cause any embarrassment to those I work with.

So it's quite hard for me to get my head round the idiocy of two teachers recently who have made the news for their own brazenness.

The first is:
An English teacher at a West Yorkshire school has been dismissed for writing a book involving underage drinking, hints of drug use and "pupil fantasies".

And the second is:
Scottish teacher in trouble for tweeting about her pupils – and criticising the head

Ranting Student

I had this comment on my last post and I think it deserves an entry of its own.

Hate to say it, but I as a student completely disagree with what your saying.
Yes students misbehave, yes we talk alot.But have you ever thought that maybe
your teaching isnt up to scratch?? We talk cause thats all we have to do,
otherwise we are stuck listening to you whine on about how you can't teach
(which just so happens is true most cases than not)so really.. shove all your
complaints up your arse and STFU.You have been here before so give us some
slack, we do more work than you think.good day.

So let's look at this in detail...

In a way, you've got to feel some pity for this student. The anger, the frustration - even if we haven't all felt such vehement passions as teenagers, we can recognise that being a teenager isn't easy.

But on the other hand, maybe this poster is just a rude and ignorant pest. Let's look at the evidence. Not the highest achiever in the class, I'll bet. My mind's eye's red pen hovers over about 7 errors, some of which may well be a result of the medium of communication, but others are errors which shouldn't be typed in the first place: your saying / alot... But what I see as a desirable correct use of our written language, others will dismiss as pedantry, so let's move on.

We talk cause thats all we have to do, otherwise we are stuck listening to you whine on about how you can't teach

Does any teacher seriously stand there and whine to the class that they can't teach? If so, then they probably deserve being put out to pasture. Or does this poster actually mean those times when a teacher is faced with such a class full of ignorance and rudeness that they stand there and tell the class they are finding it impossible to try to teach them? I know I've said something to a class who won't shut up before. I've told them straight that it's impossible to learn if you don't take part in the two-way process of teaching and learning. But that is when I've prepared a lesson for the class and they have just ignored whatever is in front of them in order to carry on their own conversations. So in my mind, the talking comes before the teacher frustration - and is the cause of teacher frustration.

Yes students misbehave, yes we talk alot.But have you ever thought that maybe your teaching isnt up to scratch??

It's a fair point that there are some people out there who are teaching without much of a clue. I've observed lessons by student teachers and experienced colleagues alike where the pace of the lesson is so slack that once pupils finish their task there is nothing else for them to do for a good few minutes, and they start poking each other, throwing paper, chatting, etc. That is a sign of poor teaching. But I'm aware of that, and I plan my lessons to avoid this kind of thing. And my despair often arises from when I've planned an interesting and resource-filled lesson but it doesn't even get off the ground because of the poor behaviour of students from the moment the lesson starts. It is so frustrating. And it always makes me feel utterly sorry for those students who are keen to learn but who are constantly interrupted by the chatting and silliness of those around them.

shove all your complaints up your arse and STFU

Hmmm, here's where your arguments fall down, ranting student. This sums up the rudeness and lack of respect that many of today's teenagers feel they have the right to display in class.

You have been here before so give us some slack,

Yes, I was a teenager, but no, I have never been in that completely self-obsessed mindset that screams "me me me" and wants to be entertained rather than taught. We had our chats and our silliness, but we knew when to buckle down and listen to the teacher. And if I think about why we did that, it was mostly because of fear. We feared the consequences of bad behaviour - the threat of detention or a talk from the deputy head. We feared our parents being told that we had mis-behaved and their subsequent shame and our subsequent bollockings. And we feared that if we didn't learn then we wouldn't pass our exams and couldn't go to university or get good jobs. At times it seemed oppressive and of course led to rebellion in small subversive ways by many, and in bigger ways by a few, but that fear of failure is missing from many of today's pupils. Parents see schools as the enemy and take their children's side in disputes over detentions. Mediocre students know they can scrape the grades to get into university to do mediocre courses. Students feel untouchable because they see outlets for their lack of talent in the pipe dreams of reality TV if they fail at school; after all, haven't we celebrated and excused the ignorance of characters like St Jade of Goody?

So, Ranting Student, thanks for your comment and insight into the mind of today's teen.