Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Caught In A Trap

Have a quick look at this news piece from the BBC. The Left Hand of the Government; their School Inspectors (Ofsted) reckon that Science teachers should do more experiments and less working towards passing narrow tests. The Government's Right Hand introduced these narrow tests (SATS) and made them compulsory. Surprise, surprise; teachers are told by their Heads that they had better get good results in them and not waste time doing experiments. (All the interesting experiments that you and I did in Science have long since been banned by the Third Arm of Health and Safety, whilst the Fourth one of Compensation Culture encourages parents to sue the school when their offspring spills some harmless chemical on their sleeve.) The fifth urges more teaching of Creativity whilst the sixth issues ever more stifling bureaucracy and forms to fill out.

I realise I've overdone this One hand doesn't know what the other is doing thing, but it's too late to back out of it now. Hopefully the picture of a grinning octopus announcing Government policy has been implanted in your mind.

The article then says that Science Teaching suffers from lack of teachers who know about Science. Of course it does; how can we realistically attract the brightest and best when we can only offer them a salary that a tanker driver would turn his nose up at, the odd free biscuit and the opportunity to be abused on a regular basis. At the same time, Universities are busy closing down their Chemistry Departments to make way for a new extension to the Mickey Mouse Studies building.


The Cattle Prod of Destiny said...

This is the inevitable consequence of trying to get 50% of school leavers to enter University. Not only aren’t there enough establishments offering enough decent courses at least 75% of those attending would be better off working. Except there aren’t the jobs because of uncontrolled immigration and the other millions without work. Never mind the NEETS, where does a C student get a job these days?

Then there’s the devaluing of the ‘A’ Level in order to make it look like kids are doing better when, in fact, they are just getting an easier ride. The kids that get As still have to work hard but would they have passed a ‘70’s ‘A’ Level at the same level? Mostly not.

Still that’s what you get when you vote Labour.

some bloke said...

During 3 years ( 1980's ) of Physics 'O' level study we did one uncomplicated experiment; the old fool teacher remained in post until his retirement whereupon we broke into his storeroom and found countless boxes of unopened equipment.

Labour borough, comprehensive, btw.

Lilyofthefield said...

The kids at Hell High are so badly behaved that most of the Science teachers (four Biologists and a Chemist; they all have to teach Physics too) try to avoid any experiments involving things that break or are dangerous if thrown. The HOD however airily waved their concerns away at the last staff meeting, announcing that it is merely a matter of management skills to carry out safe yet rewarding practicals, the clear implication being that if anyone as much as has a test-tube smashed, they are crap. 25% of the lessons are henceforth to be of a practical nature.

We are signed up to CLEAPSS, a H&S arrangement of such caution that a realistic risk assessment of each practical would result in only three kids per set being allowed to do them. So we trudge resignedly on with crisis management, damage limitation and covering up the truth of the broken equipment in the bin with paper towels.

Mr Natural said...

I began teaching Physics to ROSLA youngsters (remember those?) in 1972. One gormless lad called Bell was doing his best to disrupt my lesson on the workings of the motor car ignition coil. I grabbed him and connected myself to the coil, causing us both to get a shock of several thousand volts. He was not expecting it and shot spectacularly into the air. “There you are,” I said to the class, “the original electric Bell.” He never gave me any bother again and neither did the rest of the class. If I did such a thing now I’d be on a charge of a very different kind. Happy days!

Anonymous said...

I am a police officer in the largest student campus in Europe (Manchester) and cover an area that is chock full of students.

Clearly, they are a target for the local ne'erdowells and are frequently victims of burglary and robbery which, generally, being reasonably well behaved in the grand scheme of things.

However, I spent 8 years at University and for the first three years at Durham, I averaged about 30 hours a week through the three year course. However, despite speaking to literally hundreds of students, I am yet to meet a single one who is not on a science based course (ie, medicine) who does more than 20 or so.

I am only 30 this year, so whilst it was not as exclusive an honour to have as say 50 years ago, I am still quite proud of my degrees and I worked a lot of hours to achieve them. Having spoken to some of the "science graduates" this year, one wonders how they got their a-levels, let alone a degree :/

Anonymous said...

meh, which = whilst. Proof reading tends to fall by the wayside in target driven cultures ;)

Anonymous said...

As a chemistry teacher {in a good school} I can assure you that all the fun practicals have not been banned. That you you may not wish to do them in a bad school is another matter: one that I fully understand.

Anonymous said...

Science has lower standards because the chemistry teacher is teaching biology, the biology teacher is teaching physics and the physics teacher is..... well, there isn't a physics teacher.

Also, when I did O-level it was one timetabled slot for one science subject, now it is two slots for three subjects so you have to get rid of one third of each subject: better make it the hardest third then. Am I right in saying that there are no equations in duel award science with more than three variables in them? This means the kids don't have to know how to re-arrange a formula but can just use the triangle?

You are right, where do I apply for a job driving petrol tankers? Why did I waste my time doing A levels, a degree and a PGCE.when I could have just been a petrol tanker driver.

I suspect they wouldn't have me and would look suspiciously at such a highly qualified man wanting to do a relatively menial job.

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