Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Third Way

So David Cameron has announced that he doesn't want duffers with a third class degree going on to be teachers. Carol Vorderman (who headed their Maths Task Force) might have something to say about that, but then there is a world of difference between a third in Engineering from Cambridge thirty years ago and a third awarded this year in Cultural Drama Studies from Happy Valley ex Poly. (I didn't think they even gave out Thirds nowadays, I assumed that everybody was given a First in case they got upset)

Teaching of course is very socialisty, so there will be queues forming up to declare that degree grade is no indication of teaching ability. Now they may well have a point- think back to your own schooldays and remember the bearded teacher wearing a battered brown jacket with leather elbow patches, who no doubt mumbled lots of very clever things; but nobody heard them because he couldn't control the class. On the other hand, there is a real problem now at many schools especially in Science; with teachers who don't know much about the subject that they are supposed to be teaching.


Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

And, it would seem, they can't control the class either.

DesperateDan said...

I fail to see how being able to control a class and at the same time convey clever things to young people need to be seperate disciplines. I am usually able to achieve both, without complaining about how 'tough' being a teacher is. I actually think old Cameron might have a point - i'm tired of people coming into this profession because they can't be arsed to do anything else and want long holidays. It makes the rest of us look bad, who are here for the 'love of the job'. Well, we're certainly not here for the money anyway.

Anonymous said...

"They may have a point" - They definately have a point .

Effective Teaching as you are very well aware - is dependant on a range of abilities and strategies . Not least is control , then there is enthusiasm , empathy , charisma , example and other qualities all at least equal to academic qualification .
The military , as in so many other regards , have this sorted - which is why they select "effective" personnel to be instructors in their various training establishments as opposed to those who are merely qualified .
As an aside - many of these people would make excellent school teachers - but of course can not be employed as very few of them hold "degrees"

Anonymous said...

My partner had a colleague who had a 2:1 in her subject (Biology, I think). My partner was talking with a class about the eight planets in the solar system, and the class corrected her, pointing out that there are nine. It transpired that Ms. 2:1 had taught them that there were nine. So, other half tackles her about this, pointing out that this is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how science moves on, taking new knowledge into account. Ms 2:1 weakly argues that "it still says there are nine in the textbook".

Anonymous said...

As ever, I find your comments even more interesting than your blog, Frank. No offense, but anyone who thinks they can say anything to teachers and not get a thought-provoking response is delusional.

I agree with you that the real tragedy in Lord Snooty's policy idea is that he can't see the difference between his own 1st in PPE (Oxon) and a 1st in Art from the University of the Creative Arts.

(The difference, as we all know, is that Lord Snooty will never quality for a teacher training course with his degree without taking a Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course first, because Oxford's PPA degree isn't recognised by the TTA.)


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Carol said...

Heh. I had a chem teacher in high school tell me I just had to memorize it, he couldn't tell me why something was the way it was.

J. Wibble said...

They do still give out 3rds; a friend of mine graduated this year with a 3rd in English and Media Studies. One of her considered careers is teaching, though I think that's mostly because Mummy and Daddy think it would be suitable. G-d knows why.

allcoppedout said...

I went into university teaching because I was disabled. I was reasonably impressed by other staff back then. Started teacher training but gave it up as it was clearly based on clapped out psychobabble. Degrees meant something then (20 years back) and so did industrial experience. There was a brief promise of APEL but everything lapsed to credulous accreditation via portfolio.
Standards are now almost so non-existent in universities I could promise the parents of a camel a degree.
Many of my best teachers came from the stock with war experience. I doubt standards can be raised by insisting on 2,2s.

dicky-bird said...

There are geniuses who can't teach, and unqualified people who are brilliant at explaining nearly anything.

It seems to me, that the ability to teach well, trumps what we know.

Firkin Crumbhead said...

I had the privilige of teaching, for a short spell, at one of the best performing state schools. No need there for those silly classroom management theories. Likewise, in South Korea there, is little need for them as a wack with my stick sorts out any problem.

In a society canker ridden with anti-intellectualism and where kids are empowered the moment they step through the school gate, classroom management theories are the last bastion of defence.