Thursday, January 31, 2008
During our discussion, I started to give an example of a pupil misbehaving in class and how easy it is for a single disruptive child to utterly destroy your lesson. The other teacher replied with genuine puzzlement:
'Well I'd just tell him to stop and he would'
I think he was serious and maybe it is as simple as that in his school. I pointed out that in my dump, the child wouldn't even bother to aknowledge that you had said anything, but I started to get that age old feeling once again, that there is such a huge gap in the public's (and many teachers') perception of what it's really like trying to teach in a sink school and just how bad some of our customers can be. After all, that's why I wrote my book.
Anyway, you can probably listen to it again if you can get the site to work. It was around 8.30 am. As with all interviews, you always think of much cleverer things to say, five minutes after you've been cut off. Feel free to point these out.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
This is the sort of approach that we always see in teaching:
When there is a problem, first have a meeting, then get everybody's opinion.
Then do something that is completely ineffectual, but which is designed to make everyone feel like they are making a tough stand and taking firm action.
The main problem in teaching nowadays isn't the money, it's the working conditions. The low status, the mindless paperwork and weak leadership. The constant dumbing down of exams, the stifling PC culture and the fact that there are brilliant and inspiring teachers working alongside utterly useless ones for exactly the same pay. Most importantly of all; the appalling behaviour of so many pupils and their parents, which ruins what should be the best job in the World.
If you want more from your employer, then you either have to convince them that you are worth it, or threaten them sufficiently that they have to capitulate. A one day strike by a minority of teachers does nothing except irritate a few parents.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Anyway, last weekend I was talked into supporting my friend, Jimmy who was doing an event called the Thames Path Ultra. This, believe it or not; is a 50 mile running race from Reading along the Thames towpath.
My job was arduous indeed; I had to drive between the checkpoints and meet Jim at pre-arranged locations where I was to be ready with both refreshments and encouragement.
That was the theory anyway. What actually happened was that the whole area was deluged with rain the week before, so much of the path was actually under water. The runners therefore had to navigate around the flooding, risk life and limb; or do both. It didn't make my task any easier, driving around with my TomTom urging me to 'Turn left now!' down what appeared to be a boat launching ramp into a lake.
What amazed me (apart from the fact that 200 people had chosen to attempt it on a rainy January day) was the sheer camaraderie and good will between the runners and also between their supporters. All the competitors, many of them soaking wet and covered in mud; received a rousing cheer as they passed and I got so caught up with the whole thing that I gave away most of the food and drink that I had brought for my good friend. Fortunately Jim felt too rough to eat anything, so I managed to escape his wrath.
What on Earth persuades anyone to do something like this? I spoke to several runners at the start and was very surprised not to see anyone howling like a wolf, muttering to themselves or sticking pencils in their ears. They all seemed very happy and excited and couldn't wait to be off. Many were obviously veterans of this type of event, with their miniature backpacks (there was a minimum emergency kit list that had to be carried) patched with duct tape, torn Ron Hills and shoes that had clearly seen some serious mileage. (One man was laughing at anothers tale of getting hopelessly lost on a recent training run that had started and finished in the dark) Others with cleaner and newer looking kit, seemed rather more worried about what they had got themselves into and were shuffling towards the back of the starting lineup.
When I spoke to a few more at the end, I was struck by their modesty-despite having achieved something few of us can even contemplate (virtually a double marathon over pretty awful terrain) there was none of the hysterics that you see when a footballer scores a goal, instead I heard comments along the lines of 'Yeah, I had a few bad patches' (This from a man who had blood oozing from his shoe and appeared to be wearing the remains of his last meal on the front of his top.) Nobody moaned that the checkpoints were 10 miles apart and only gave out water. The race organiser was clearly one of those rare people who put tedious 'Health and Safety Regulations' secondary to the idea of 'You're an adult- take responsibility for your own actions.'
The whole thing was a very refreshing glimpse of a side of humanity that often goes unnoticed. (Especially on my blog.) ie acts of simple generosity, kind words and the sharing of limited resources. I think part of it is moving out of your comfort zone, which we never ever have to do in the modern centrally heated World. Even when I helpfully said: 'Keep going. You're looking good!' to a man who was on his hands and knees in the mud, retching; I received nothing more than a wry smile.
Anyway, well done to Jim and all the others who took part in something which I can honestly say; quite moved me.
ps Those of you who have suggested that my titles are shameless attempts to misdirect people looking for other topics; are of course correct.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I'm all for following the The Germans (even though at the back of my mind, I do wonder whether it's just a way of sneaking an advance party into Russia) and The Americans are on to a great idea here.
Feel free to submit any more examples of good overseas practice (and I shall investigate them as part of my Diversity Training)
Monday, January 21, 2008
As a general principle, smaller schools are better for kids than massive schools. In small schools, the teachers know every child and a fair number of the parents. In a big school the children are simply statistics.
However big schools are cheaper so that usually ends the argument.
That should solve the problem. Osama will be quaking in his boots.
Let's not hear any mention of 'Newspeak' nor any suggestion that she should be renamed as 'Unemployed'
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Imagine the outcry if say, the Education Secretary said that they were sending their children to a private school because the Comprehensives where they live are terrible? It just couldn't happen.
Let's assume that it takes on average 30 seconds per child (by the time they've triggered the damn thing with pencil sharpeners, belt buckles, watches etc and had to go through again, then triggered it again, then refused to go through it again, stormed off and returned with their mother who will want to complain about radiation, rights or something...)
Let's also assume that we are given two detectors so that we can use two entrances at the same time. With our 900 pupil school, we should be able to get everyone inside in just 3 hours and 45 minutes. So if we can make a prompt start at quarter to nine, then we will be finished by 12.30 just in time for lunch. Pupils found to be carrying knives will then be given a 20 minute detention. (Attendance optional)
Let's not hear any talk of ceramic knives, baseball bats, or chair legs and don't even think about windows or Fire Exits.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The bogus Irish International University (IIU), which offers sub-standard and worthless degrees, has been allowed to flourish in the UK - virtually unchecked by the government - for the last seven years'
Basically, they rip off a load of foreign students and give them a bit of paper which will make an employer double up with laughter. Shouldn't we be encouraging this? Most former Polytechnics have been busy offering sub-standard and worthless degrees for years. Cultural Studies anyone?
Prof. Frank Chalk (Dr. of Lettuce...er Letters)
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Several friends of mine have had their child baptised and become best pals with the local vicar or priest, even though they have no more belief in Religion than I do. As you might have come to expect, my view on all this is quite simple:
The kids may well get indoctrinated, but at least they'll be able to spell it.
Mind you, nobody is pulling the wool over the eyes of the Teaching Union, NUT. They have spotted that: 'Faith schools discriminate against pupils from non religious backgrounds.'
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
The real scandal is that 35% of the students who take Further Maths are from Private Schools, despite the fact that only 7% of kids attend them. The Comps just can't attract teachers who are able to teach it, or teach students to a high enough level that they can even attempt it.
There are dozens of great Flashman quotes, one of my favourities being:
'Somebody screamed in terror- fortunately nobody heard me.' and
'You think twice about committing murder when you're over 70'
Guardian of Law and Order, and winner of the 'Best Police Inspector's Blog 2007' award Inspector Gadget sent me this article enquiring if it was anything to do with me. It isn't, as the chances of me ever progressing to Head are lower than John Prescott's IQ, but it made me laugh. (Especially where the mother said that she had 'cried and cried')
(Incidently Gadget's book will be out in the next few months and I've heard that it is a cracker.)
I love local papers with their 'Cat stuck up a tree' or 'Mrs Miggins falls over in the High St.' stories. Here's one that strikes a chord though. Apparently they reckon that litter bins attract litter. A cursory glance around Downtown indicates that areas frequented by the Underclass seem to attract litter. (Along with feckless, shell suited lumps) No doubt sociologists would have a field day about 'deprivation' and 'poverty' but how much exactly does it cost financially to put litter in a bin or take it home? There is a cost in effort though, which explains everything.
Schools like St. Thickchilds are knee deep in crisp packets, takeaway cartons and chocolate wrappers. Nobody is ever made to clear it up for a variety of imaginary Health and Safety reasons explained by a Head who has undergone an operation to have his spine removed.
Jumping around a bit, I'm sorry that I missed this story (which is also a bit out of date) I'm not surprised that Santa has fallen victim to the PC Brigade, his days were always numbered and I've never really trusted any man with a beard. No, I'm more surprised that prospective Santas go on a training course.
I'm still only posting occasionally as Dan the Editor is unaware that slavery has been abolished in Britain. Good luck to those of you who are going back to school today