Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Home Alone

After the enthusiastic response to the last two questions about schooling, here's a third which I think is a harder one:

'Would you educate your child at home?'

Ok they would probably be able to pass their GCSEs at the age of nine but would they not end up a bit odd from missing out on all the other stuff kids learn at school (drugs, violence, anti-social behaviour, gangs, cider, sex...)

Say whether you would do it as a last resort (ie local comps are War Zones and you can't afford the Private School fees) or whether you might consider it regardless.

You don't need any qualifications to home school by the way. The Council just check up on you every so often. (Probably about as often as they fill in potholes, but I don't really know)


Anonymous said...

I'd be limited because I'm a Primary teacher. I'm not sure how far my daughter would have gone with me teaching her A level maths.

Anonymous said...

Ah.....cider.....sex....the things that made school worth all the pain!

There are several families round here who home-school, and help each other out. I must say that their kids are Grade A weird but that might be because of their (perceived) high intelligence that meant they weren't being stretched by their Primary Schools (the usual reason). Several of them are now far too precious to hack it for more than a week in our local comps.

Mary said...

no, because I'm under no illusions about my own intelligence and ability. I might get a kid through a few specific GCSEs respectably enough, but only the ones I was actually good at - if the poor little bugger wanted to do Further Maths (for instance) they'd have no chance!

Anonymous said...

This one is more challenging.

If academic achievement is less important than personal development, then anyone who gives a damn will do better home educating their children thana lot of schools could manage.

But there are also occasions when it is the only realistic option: if you have a child with a learning disability (by that I mean a genuine one like Autism or Asperger's Syndrome, not a spurious excuse for bad behaviour) then ordinary schools can do a great deal of damage. 50% of Autistic and Aspie children in mainstream suffer from depression caused by their teachers, who don't know what they are doing.

And as we all know, you can't tell a teacher anything...


Anonymous said...

mary, i think you're missing the point. gcses ae worthless. we're talking about EDUCATING children.

Anonymous said...

Nah - I wouldn't do it. I agree with Mary. I know what I know, and I don't know enough about enough subjects to school my kids at home. I think it's important for them to learn from people other than myself and my husband. I think it's important for them to go to school to be around other kids. Homeschooling groups can achieve that but they still don't expose kids to all of the academic and social challenges they would face in a school.

I have met quite a few homeschooled kids and quite frankly they all seemed to think the world revolved around them, that if they didn't like something then they simply didn't have to do it. They do the subjects they want. They get as long as they want to master a subject - no real-world (adult world, not school world) time pressures. They can drop a subject as soon as they find it challenging. I'm taking a beginning weaving class and a home-schooled kid signed up to take it as her art class. She was clearly not having an easy time the first week and she never came back. Some of the adults weren't having an easy time either, but we came back. I got the impression she needed to be spoon-fed and be the only person in the class in order to be successful. Like the kids lilyofthefield knows, she definitely wouldn't hack it in a state school, even a good one. Maybe that's a good reason to homeschool her? Or maybe her parents are doing her a disservice?

I do see good reason to homeschool kids with certain disabilities, but it's still important to provide them opportunities to interact with a wider world.

Anonymous said...

If my child was special needs and left to sink or swim with no support then yes I would. I haven't a problem with mainstreaming special needs children providing they are supported but it sickens me when they can't cope and are left to 'get by'.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to bring up Australia again but we have a long history of people educating their sprogs at home - it's usually because they live too far away from a school and so they are enrolled in the "School of the Air" as it was once known.

You might be surprised to know that the statistics are clear - these kids easily outperform their in-school bretheren and often go on to university, BUT, they have a higher incidence of drop-out in their frist year because of social reasons etc.

Lots of people also now educate their kids at home becasue of religious reasons and many of them are, as lily so aptly described, "Grad A weird" - but then so are their parents.

For someone to educate their kids at home, there is a definite need for a real curriculum which is provided along with direct supervision/support from teachers.

Anonymous said...

No - I would rather send them a private school in another country.
True I would not see them much but that would be better than them going to my old school.

Anonymous said...

No, but only because of the practical difficulties and the psychological aspect. Very few people have the knowledge, experience, and personality necessary to teach a full curriculum successfully at home. Then again there is the problem of freeing oneself almost entirely from work commitments - education is a full-time job. But the most important concern, as others have stressed, is that children need to get out of their homes and meet a variety of other people. Otherwise they risk being hothouse plants all their lives, unable to handle conflict or (in some cases) any human relationships at all. John Stuart Mill and Norbert Wiener are examples that come to mind immediately, and King James I of England may be another. ("The wisest fool in Christendom"). Lastly, children generally need to grow away from their parents - which is why it is good when they come home from school and seem so "different", "grown-up", "self-reliant", etc. Staying tied to the apron strings is a bad idea.

On the other hand... my mother taught me at home for several months before I went to (boarding) prep school, and I think I learned more from her than in the next year at my (very good) school. Mind you, she was a qualified, experienced and naturally talented teacher. But the amount that can be achieved with a 1-1 pupil-teacher ratio is astounding.

Anonymous said...

I have no children, but am an OAP 'helper' by nature. So, for the subjects I know enough (= at least A-level) about, I coach some of the village school children.

This falls into 2 levels:
1) Bringing laggards up to speed (e.g. the 10-year old girl who can't do arithmetic).

2) Pushing the brighter ones as fast as they can go (e.g. O-levels at 11).

This approach makes up for the academic deficiencies of state schools but maintains the children's social environments.

Is this the way to go, or am I wasting my time? Obviously I believe everybody benefits, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.

alanorei said...

Yes, I remember in Australia what were known as 'Correspondence courses,' e.g. for pupils who lived on stations (ranches) in the far west (from Sydney), also called the Outback.

Wealthier rural families sent their offspring to boarding schools in the city.

I understand it is common in the USA for Christian parents to home-school their children. I know of 3 Christian families over there who did this and I am sure it is not untypical - though in the cases I know of, the parents either have teaching qualifications or have relatives that do. No doubt this is a key factor.

However, I believe that home-schooling over there is carried out mainly for 2 reasons:

1. Depending on where they live, the parents understandably don't want their children at the mercy of a St Jude's US equivalent, which can be pretty nasty, although our politicians are doing all they can to help this country achieve 'equality' in this respect.

(I continue to hope that little Kylie in Mr C's book is still achieving, nevertheless.)

2. They don't want their 8-10 year-old children, daughters especially, in the same class as 12-15 year-old male youths of a different ethnicity. This anomaly can arise* because of observed and consistent differences in academic aptitude, reported on for decades by genuine educational researchers.

*Where it doesn't, as reported recently in this country, it simply means that education has totally collapsed in that particular environment.

That situation brings with it other problems that are potentially serious.

Our politicians would disagree with point 2 above but that is because they are largely plonkers.

In sum, I think the decision depends on individual circumstances. The Christian families are able to compensate for the loss of social interaction (though if that amounted to avoidance of playground drunkenness and fornication - as a member of the older generation, I have tendency to talk plain - the mums (moms) and dads might see that as a plus) by means of their local church youth groups.

(Christian families that home school would tend to belong to churches where the youth groups are not part of the sex/drugs/rock/pop scene. That does have some advantages.)

alanorei said...

Re: James 1st

The term "Wisest fool in Christendom" was bestowed on him by the then King Hennry IV of France, so there might have been some royal jealousy involved.

Basically, James 1st gets a bad press because he will always be associated with the 1611 Authorised Holy Bible, or King James Version.

(The false accusation against him of homosexuality, put about by disgruntled ex-courtier Anthony Weldon after James's death, is refuted by noted historians, including Lady Antonia Fraser. See especially King James Unjustly Accused? by American author Stephen Coston Jr.)

Despite his royal background, James had a difficult childhood, even by today's 'chav' standards.

When James was eight months old, his father, Lord Darnley, was murdered and his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, was suspected of complicity in the murder so she could marry James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell.

He grew up avoiding assassination attempts against him and also seeing his friends murdered.

Mary was executed in 1587 for her part in the Babington Plot to murder Queen Elizabeth. She wasn't a particularly good role model.

James was first tutored by George Buchanan, a most learned man but a rigid disciplinarian - also author of the snide remark against James that he was "God's silly vassal."

Nevertheless, James had mastered Latin, Greek and French fluently by the age of eight.

He was greatly helped by his second tutor, a younger and gentler man than Buchanan, named Peter Young, who remained the king's lifelong loyal subject.

James's achievements, first as King of Scotland, then of the whole realm, are as follows.

1. James was the first man to unite the feuding tribes of Scotland into one nation.

2. James united Scotland and England, laying the groundwork for the British Empire, birthplace of the greatest missionary movement of the modern age.

3. James founded the Province of Ulster, by far the most Bible believing, prosperous and Christian sector of Ireland.

4. James was the first earthly monarch on record to encourage the propagation of God’s word in the language of the people.

5. James believed in salvation by grace and in the word of God, never wavering from his personal adherence to Protestant belief.

6. James broke the back of witchcraft in Scotland.

7. James was an accomplished scholar - see above. He knew Latin, Greek and French perfectly, Italian and Spanish adequately and wrote poetry, theology and even a tract against the use of tobacco.

8. He has been called “The most hated character in English history for Greek and Hebrew scholars in the Protestant church, especially the modern fundamentalist branch.” This distinction appears to have been bestowed by fundamental scholars for the reason given in point 4 above.

9. James gave Royal Assent to the Puritan proposal for a new Bible translation, 1604, which became the greatest work of prose ever, the 1611 Authorised Holy Bible, which in turn ultimately established Great Britain.

As Queen Victoria said, at the height of Britain's greatness,

"That Book accounts for the supremacy of England."

James may have been a child prodigy but nevertheless, this outline does show that home schooling can work, certainly if you have the material to work with (and of course the necessary qualifications).

Besides Stephen Coston's book, more about James can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Not yer average yoof, though, was he.
A bit off-topic (just for a change) but the degree of sexual explicitness and technical detail I hear older pupils using on the corridors in front of, indeed to, Y7 girls would merit an exclusive certificate or parental advisory sticker if it were publicly transmitted.

For all I know, my little angel might have been perfectly well aware when she was 11 of which part required sucking, or where Spotty McGreb of Y9 would be shoving his fist later, but I'd prefer it if she didn't learn it in that particular situation.

Anonymous said...

I believe from an academical point of view, I'd be perfectly able to educate my child to sit her GCSE's in yr 8. Easily./ BUT>>>>>>>>>THE BIG BUT>>>>>> they miss out on having friends, and I don't mean sex,drugs and all that. My daughter attends a state comp, yr 7, just back from parents evening where she's hitting L7 in some, L6 in most subjects. So probably she'll be done with L8 by this time next year and then.. WHAT???????????
Being an only child, she'd terribly miss her friends but what is the alternative? The educatin in this country fails the bright children. They waste precious potential by keeping letting the kids hit the glass ceiling until their fontanelas are blue and black.

Anonymous said...

its a case of the lowest common denominator applies ... thats the level of education the UK can expect

Anonymous said...

Looking at the general quality of state education, I would be very tempted to home-educate on academic grounds alone. Even though there are areas about which I know very little, if I could teach a child to read and to think, then he or she will be able to learn independently.
Given that they are literate and motivated, then who wouldn't get more from half-an-hours reading a "teach-yourself-french" book than half an hours sitting through a crowd control session at the local comp?

On the socialisation argument, then sure there are dangers with home schooling- but only a fool would be unaware of this. It can be overcome by enrolling children in various clubs and extra-curricular activities.

And another thought- how are we defining social dysfunction in any case? A "weird" kid who can talk politely to grown-ups, sit quietly when necessary, and interact pleasantly with their own family, is far better adjusted than the average chav by any sensible measure. I wouldn't want my children to grow up with the big mouth, thick skull, and general nastiness necessary to be a "success" in some environments.

I know several families who have gone down this route, and their children are a credit to them.

Anonymous said...

If I had a choice of having them 'educated' by someone like Frank Chalk, I would keep them at home. No offence, Frank. Did I say no offence? I mean complete offence meant, Frank.

Tucker Jenkins.

Anonymous said...

"A "weird" kid who can talk politely to grown-ups, sit quietly when necessary, and interact pleasantly with their own family, is far better adjusted than the average chav by any sensible measure."

I couldn't agree more, Allan - from our point of view. But imagine how unhappy and maladjusted such a child could turn out to be, growing up in present-day Britain. I have some personal experience here, as I know some young people who fit the description quite well and have found that "in the country of the blind the one-eyed man gets mobbed".

alanorei said...

Lily said (w.r.t. James 1st):

Not yer average yoof, though, was he.


I believe him to have been extraordinarily gifted for taking on some extraordinary responsibilities. Elizabeth 1st was a hard act to follow but I think James did so, successfully.

The point being that home schooling does seem to have the advantage of bringing out potential that could well be hindered in a St Jude's-type environment.

Lily also said:

I'd prefer it if she didn't learn it in that particular situation.


St Jude's and environments like it are examples of Darwin in reverse.

Teach pupils, or even imply it, that they came from animals and that's how they'll react.

As an independent Baptist minister and ex-WW2 GI from across the pond said many years ago:

"Back to the Bible or back to the jungle."

I think it's clear in which direction we're headed - and I say that with apologies to every self-respecting jungle-dwelling species on the face of the planet, including Mokele Mbembe*.

*Not a Rap group. Thought by some to be the world's only non-extinct four-footed dinosaur. Believed to inhabit west-central African rain forests**.

**Possible field excursion venue for selected St Jude's-type pupils (and their parents)? Of open-ended duration, of course. That could circumvent some problems which home schooling is meant to avoid.

Alternatively, tell the environmentalists to naff off, re-open the now disused pits, stop all gov't cash handouts to 'chav' households, and send said pupils (and their parents) down there to dig coal for coal-fired power stations. At the end of a 12-hour shift, they'd be too knackered to engage in serious anti-social behaviour.

That would also solve problems that home schooling is meant to avoid.

Anonymous said...

As the parent of a 16-yo boy with severe learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorder, I want to stand up for special schools, not just because of the educational opportunities they offer to their pupils but because of the social aspect too. When my son was at nursery school there was a kid there who was abler than him but already dignosed autistic, whose parents raised the standard £10k to take him to the USA and then built a shed in the garden where this poor brat was incarcerated with various helpers (unqualified) for 10 hours a day, doing a Program. I thought at the time and think now that no matter how quickly he came on academically, the LAST thing an autistic kid needs is to be isolated from other kids. The very, very last. For god's sake send them to a special school if you possibly can, and then they will avoid all the horrors of inclusion AND get some social skills. It may sound sentimental, but going to a nativity play and seeing an Angel Gabriel in pebble glasses and a Down's Joseph is a wonderful sight. It would never happen in a mainstream school and I want my kid to feel a success, no matter how low the bar is set, not a failure.

Anonymous said...

Have HE'd two of mine, one because he was too ill for school and in conjunction with outreach tuition (2 hours a week) and the other to get the LEA to pull their finger out and actually provide the support set out in the statement. Know lots of people who have been 'forced' into it because of lack of provision in schools, intolerable bullying etc and equally know others for whom it's a lifestyle choice, the kids range between seemingly perfectly normal to seeming slightly off the wall

Anonymous said...

Last resort all the way. My kids (God forbid I ever have any) might just as well get used to dealing with bullies, bigots and bastards from an early age, because they make up about 75% of the population of the English-speaking world and the sooner they evolve some coping strategies the easier they'll find it to adapt to life in the adult world. That goes double for someone with autism (like me) because I was considered a freak when I was 11 and I'll be considered a freak until the day I die. It was something I just had to learn to live with.

You do your children no favours by wrapping them in cotton wool.

Anonymous said...

School teaches children to be children. I'd rather they learned how to be adults.

Anonymous said...

I would never consider home schooling, I could not teach the full range.

On friday my daughter brought home a letter from school saying on Monday she will be starting her KS3 at 12.

As a parent this does not mean a lot to me. But from what I understand (without speaking to the school because it is half term), She is skipping a year and will be according to the letter taking her GCSE's in year 10.

If I am wrong please comment here because my daughters scared sheis going to fail by doing everthing a year early.

Anonymous said...

tucker jenkins - what is it you dislike about frank and his teaching methods? if you read the book you'll find he goes out of his way to help the kids who want to learn and wants the disrupters, classroom porn mag readers and fighters dealt with. i assume your kids fall into the latter category... in which case, what are you doing reading this? haven't you got an episode of trisha to watch?

Mary said...

Anonymous 14.52
KS3 is Key Stage 3 which is the final set of SATs, which kids take in year 9 and have been working towards since year 7.

If you want to know more you could always take the step of typing "KS3" into a UK-only google search, where results from organisations like the BBC and the DfES will tell you everything you need to know in seconds.

It's dead handy like that, this internet thing.

Anonymous said...


Anon 14.52: I can see that treading water with the pissy NC is a waste of time for a child of above average intelligence, but I think the answer is to devise a curriculum (with associated testing etc) that will stretch that burgeoning mind, not just shove it through the same undemanding hoop twelve months earlier.

Anonymous said...

Should you be asking teachers about home education. A bit biased they ?
From reading your blogs it might be better to feed children steroids and train them in unarmed combat.
After all is education much use these days

Anonymous said...

If you can't afford private schools but want to give your kids a decent education, it's probably better to emigrate to a country with decent public schools than school them at home. It's quite easy within the EU, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous you ask why I have a problem with Frank and his so-called ‘teaching’ and the methods he does not employ. Here, in Frank’s own words, are my problems:

“Mostly I taught my subject using the simple method I knew to work- ie explain something, then get the kids to do lots of examples. I tried to get them to work quietly and sit in neat rows where they were told to. (And I often failed miserably as you can see in my book)

Most education experts would wring their hands in horror at all this. I never attempted to make a martyr of myself by working endlessly, as I had lots of outside interests and I was never overly friendly with the pupils.”

The most exciting part of the day for the pupils enduring this in Frank’s lesson is surely the bell to signify end the lesson, after the getting, “the kids to do lots of examples.” Riveting, I’m sure you’ll agree anonymous. No wonder he “failed miserably”, the kids were obviously bored rigid and the excitement and challenge of winding up Mr Chalk was too hard to resist.

I would want a teacher to be interesting, challenging, illuminating, caring…is that too much for you anonymous?

Also the fact that you presume I’m some uneducated chav – the “watch Trisha” jibe was so emotionally cutting I may never sleep again! - because I disagree with Frank, says a great deal about you and your snobbish attitudes. You may also, unwittingly, be projecting your own inadequacies and intellectual limitations when using such language.

I teach, I work hard, I challenge kids and I try to bring a bit of excitement, colour and knowledge into their lives. I do not subscribe to Frank Chalk’s Gradgrindian* and frankly outdated modes of teaching.

* Thomas Gradgrind is a character from Charles Dickens’ ‘Hard Times’, anonymous. But you would know this already not being a watcher of ‘Trisher’ and other trash TV like myself.

Tucker Jenkins

Anonymous said...

I have certainly considered it and am qualified and confident to give my daughter an education that at least equalts what she gets in state comp, but since her state comp is quite a good one and she is happy there, I won't at the moment. Plus, even though home-schooling certainly has its benefits children can miss out on socialising, (NO Mr Chalk, I'm NOT talking sex/drugs/gang warfare/use of machine guns and machetes but 'normal' socialising which seems to actually happen still at some schools, happy to see it) If there were severe problems, educationwise or if my daughter were unhappy because of bullying and the school didn't stop it, she'd come out. Not a moment's hesitation. I must say I'd rather for her to have a happy education at school since I remember mine fondly. BUT it would be good to bring the grammar schools back.

alanorei said...

Lily said:


They have clearly had a good home life to offset the effects of Darwinianism from external sources.

The degeneration sets in where that doesn't happen, e.g. the Cherry Tree Estate that Mr Chalk chronicles.

Basically, you disprove Darwin every time you discipline your children, tend your garden or have your car serviced.

In sum, you couldn't find a "scientific reality" to back up Darwin if your life depended on it. That is why evolution is still described as a theory - nothing more.

I suggest read From Nothing to Nature by Prof E.H. Andrews of the University of London (1984). He is a genuine scientist.

However, as a belief system, Darwinianism formed the basis for Hitler's nazism and Marx's communism.

That is why Hitler implemented his genocide programme. Being Germanic, he carried Darwin's theory through to its logical conclusion, i.e. get rid of an 'inferior species.'

Darwin, being an Englishman, stopped short of this application, i.e. survival of the fittest.

Darwin's own experimentation with his theory consisted of trying to produce superior offspring by marrying a close blood relative (his mother's niece). His experiment failed catastrophically.

(The closest Darwin ever got to being a scientist was as an amateur naturalist during the Beagle voyage. He dropped out of medical school and switched to studying divinity at Cambridge, where he attained a BA, though he never became a vicar.)

Read In the Minds of Men by Ian Taylor, a top research metallurgist and another genuine scientist.

This reference is also good.


To return to the original topic, the above is relevant because at least with home schooling, you can teach this kind of factual material without fear of censorship by the (increasingly Darwinian) state system.

Anonymous said...

Anon (12.31

Out of interest, how does your arrogance and prejudice go down with the kids you teach?

J. Wibble said...

Should I ever have children, I intend to homeschool them. I fully believe my partner and I would be able to give them a well-rounded education and teach them to be decent members of society. I can't teach them everything on every GCSE/A Level syllabus, and why the hell would I want to? Let them learn what they need and what they want, in a friendly and relaxed environment. The pieces of paper will still be there in the future if they want them. If they want to learn in detail beyond my area of expertise, I'm sure I can find someone to help me and them out with it. Hopefully without the constraints of a standardised system they won't burn out and have completely lost all interest in learning by their late teens.

Homeschooled children may get used to being the centre of attention, but so do children in mainstream schools who behave badly constantly. The children who are naughty in school get a lot more recognition than the children who are well-behaved and polite, and I don't want my kids to think that is the way to get attention.

As for socialisation, if we're talking about the kind of 'socialisation' I got all through primary school and a significant part of secondary school, they're better off without it. Being bullied won't make them stronger or 'build character', it will destroy their childhoods and quite possibly the rest of their lives too. I will not willingly put my children into a situation where they are going to be victimised and I hope they will learn not to accept behaviour of that kind towards them as well.

Anonymous said...

If - Heaven forbid - I ever had a child I would look very seriously at home schooling. First thing I'd look for would be a local network, so said sprog gets social interaction as well as a wider education than I alone could offer. Then, having got sprog through its GCSEs at 9, we could concentrate on learning useful and interesting stuff, instead of the exam-passing crud which is the National Curriculum.

Anonymous said...

If I'm ever fortunate enough to have kids and to have the time and money to educate them at home then I will do so.

I was bullied until the day I left school and it took me a long time and a fair old amount of therapy to start undoing the damage.

And why was I targeted? My very traditional parents had raised me to be polite, well spoken, quiet and well-behaved. I was bright, but bored by the work and picked on by my classmates at the rather roucgh school I went to for the way I spoke, the way I worked, the marks I got and - eventually - absolutely everything I did.

The relief I got from school was in the arts and drama lessons my parents paid for after school and at weekends. A lot of local homeschooled kids went too and I found the environment much more supportive and stimulating - and much better resourced. I wasn't sharing a desk with someone, my work wasn't lost or smashed up, I didn't have to scrap for a glue stick or share a book with two other people. And I was never, never picked on for wanting to be involved in what was going on.

If I have children, and they are bright, I don't know quite how I'll bear seeing their joy in knowledge and their desire for exploration and discovery crushed and extinguished in the UK education system because I almost certainly will not be able to afford to stay at home and teach them.

And it'

Anonymous said...

tucker jenkins:
you're obviously a very popular teacher with your kids. well done, i'm sure you feel tremendously proud!
i had teachers like you - the ones who had slightly longer than collar length hair, played the guitar in assembly and tried to get 'down with the kids' by coming to our school discos. we used to take the piss out of them behind their backs, mostly.
their lessons were a lotta fun, of course, but we didn't actually learn anything in them.
the thing is, the methods frank espouses actually work - showing kids how a quadratic equation works, and then getting them to repeat it over and over again means, ultimately, they can do quadratic equations.
it may not be much 'fun' and it certainly isn't 'exciting' but it does leave them with some understanding of mathematics.
i think you forget that the schools in which frank teaches (according to the book) are schools in which (at risk of restating old posts) the kids read porn in lessons, swear at the teachers, fight with each other, get drunk and vandalise everything in sight.
getting kids like these to sit still and listen, and obey simple instructions, and repeat-after-me, is the closest they'll ever get to education, sadly.
your methods - great with A level students from nice areas who are interested in their subjects - simply could not ever work in those circumstances.

Anonymous said...

To Tucker Jenkins, several posts above:

I think that most older teachers realise that you can either teach the pupils and get them to actually learn things, or you can entertain them.

Obviously it's more pleasant to simply entertain them but sooner or later we have to accept the simple fact that learning is often hard and difficult, requiring listening, concentration and serious effort rather than just playing around at poster making or 'discussion work'

Traditional teaching methods may be unpopular nowadays but they do work.

liz ward said...

Would consider it regardless.

Anonymous said...

To all the different people who have come to poor Frank’s defence and attacked me.

Firstly, you love your stereotypes don’t you? However, you left out the cordroy and leather patches gag. And I love playing my guitar whilst I’m allowing the kids to watch Trisha and jerk off at the back of the class because I obviously don’t give a shit about those under my care. The assumptions you lot make are astounding. Please don’t assume that everyone is as inadequate as you! I know it is difficult for you all to believe that there are teachers out there who are good at their job and get results even with difficult kids.

We are not all cynical bastards who’ve given up caring.

Of course there are kids who are unteachable and in my school the discipline is shit. So on occasions you have to kick them out; take a personal stand against anti-social behaviour and protect the learning of all. I have never a taught a class where all kids are disaffected and disruptive. Even if management don’t like it when you push the problems out of your class and on to them, you’ve got to make a stand against them, too, and keep kicking the disruptive bastard out.

Also, I am not a clown or an entertainer. I don’t even think I’m popular. Only the shallow or the very thick are attracted by popularity. I am a teacher and a bloody good one at that. I don’t work in a middle class comp, I work with a variety of kids, some good, some bad, some indifferent.

Traditional teaching does not work. It did not work in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or today for that matter. Ask Frank! He freely admits this. But to engage difficult kids, you have to get them interested first. Then when you get them – yes it does take hard work, something Frank freely admits he has a dislike for- and get their interest you can begin the hard work that sees them actually learn something. This dichotomy between traditional teaching and modern teaching theories is not as simple as you make it out to be.

It’s sad to hear that repetitive, boring teaching is seen as the only way to teach the type of kids Frank claims to have been teaching. Also, you seem to be implying that ‘these’ type of kids would not respond to progressive or interesting teaching methods. Very sad indeed. Maybe it is fear that holds you back. Or, dare I say it, lack of talent.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and for attacking me. Your defensiveness speaks volumes.

Tucker Jenkins.

Anonymous said...

Tucker, I've read Frank's book but I can't remember him ever saying that traditional teaching methods don't work. Where does he say this?

My own experience is that they work a lot better than the modern trendy teaching methods that PGCE and BEd tutors love so much.

Anonymous said...

Having read most of these what a lousy set of choices. Go to the local comp where your kids learn violence, sex and drugs or home educate.
May I suggest a third they allow I believe in Sweden where 2 or more teachers can set up a school and receive money from the government or a fourth
Home educate in groups so there is some interaction
Thankfully our local school is in the top ten state schools so I am Ok(ish)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the answer that bit I already knew. (my daughter is in year 8) Now back at school I found out that my daughters school has pushed her whole class forward a year because of the high marks they been getting. This means KS3 this year and GCSE in year 10. Which is why I confussed as to what was happening.

My daughter is worried because when we moved back here from USA it ment she went from year 1 to year 3 and feels she has only just caught up. I think we have benefited from being in small schools with class sizes around 21.