There is a mystique about teachers of the past, as there is about much else, and the idea that change is always and only for the worse is as ill-conceived as it is pervasive. Yet over a generation or two something does seem to have changed. Not necessarily in the calibre of teachers – arguably they must now be better qualified than ever – but in their social standing and the regard in which they are held by the population.Being ‘better qualified’ is actually no basis for assuming they are better at their job, of course.
Far be it from me to point to the rapid decline in literacy and numeracy standards…
An aura of respect – which may always have been exaggerated – has dissipated. And instead of being bracketed with doctors and lawyers, teachers are now more likely to be classed with the local council staff whose strike they shared yesterday.That ‘aura of respect’ is vanishing not just for teachers, but for other public servants – the respect once given to doctors and lawyers is fast running thin.
It would be easy to blame teachers' own conduct for the shrinking public regard in which they are held – and to cite their willingness to strike as supporting evidence. In fact, though, teachers are not particularly strike-happy. Their last strike, mounted by only one union, was three years ago, over pay, and it was the first national strike for 21 years. The inflammatory rhetoric heard at teachers' annual conferences gives the impression of greater militancy than actually exists.Indeed. The strike on Thursday wasn’t even very well supported.
Something more has to be going on. As it happens, a survey on the status of teachers in England was compiled for the Department for Education in 2007 – and it is telling. Not only does its very existence show that the then Government had the status of the profession in its sights, but a central finding was that teachers' status had declined sharply over 40 years: from a high of 4.3 (on a scale of 5) in 1967 to a low of 2.2 in 2002, although it had recovered a little, to 2.5, by 2006.Ouch!
The survey reported that rank-and-file teachers were equated in the public mind with social workers, while the analogy for head teachers was with management consultants.
Tests and league tables had further repercussions. While they raised the standing of teachers in high-performing schools, they depressed that of teachers in poorly scoring schools. And by giving parents more information, they helped to "demystify" teaching, making it look more like a skill or a craft than a profession.Awww, say it ain't so!
Why is teaching stuck in the doldrums here? Partly because pay for doctors and top lawyers has spun off into the stratosphere in a way it has not on the Continent. Partly because, despite rewards for excellence, the cult of management, with its super-heads and super-schools, is destroying the professional solidarity that exists elsewhere – and communicates some strange messages about what constitutes educational success.Yes, clearly it's all the fault of those teachers who don't stick to the spin that everything in the garden is rosy, eh, Mary?
But mostly it is because so many teachers today denigrate their own profession – quite unreasonably – as low-paid drudgery. Until they take more pride in what they do, parents and public have little choice but to accept teachers' negative self-image as their own.
Of course, if Mary really wondered why the status of teaching is sinking in the public's eye, she could do worse than read the comments here...
I'm waiting for them to strike for a return to effective education. I won't be holding my breath.
..that rank-and-file teachers were equated in the public mind with social workers...
Small wonder really given that both parents and government seem to treat them as such.
A doctor can save my life, a lawyer can keep me out of clink while you on the other hand, love, look after the brats while I'm at work.
Mr Chips you ain't.
Of the people I know who are teachers, while they are lovely folk, by no means would I call them intelligent. I'm in a quiz team, one of the members is a teacher. He rarely knows the answer to a question, and never knows an answer that no-one else knows. His main job in the team is to get the drinks rounds in. This man is a head of department.
Now I'm not equating knowing pub quiz answers to intelligence, but its the total lack of intellectual curiosity that astounds me. How can you be in charge of young minds, and be responsible for giving them an education when you yourself have such narrow horizons?
My other team mates are a chef and a carpenter, and they have infinitely more interest in life and what's going on in the world than the teacher does.
The very same quiz is usually read out by a woman who is a teaching assistant in a local school (she knows my friend professionally). She struggles to read the questions - she often has to ask people how to pronounce words.
This is the calibre of the people we allow to educate children in this country. I'm not surprised teaching is not highly regarded any more, when you look at the actual people doing it.
"but its the total lack of intellectual curiosity that astounds me. How can you be in charge of young minds,"-Jim....hitting nail on head.
A couple of years back Che Guevara t-shirts came back in fashion.
That particularly picture of Mr.Guevara is probably, I would think, one of the icons of the last century.
I happened to be in the City at the market looking for something with a bunch of late teenagers ie my kids and their mates.
One of them, pointing to such a tshirt asked me 'who is that bloke?'. None of them knew despite the majority of their little lives having been spent in 'Education, Education, Education'.
But wait, it gets worse...
One day one of my kids' 'posse' (see I can get down wid da kidz) asked me 'whose like king of this here country like innit?'!
I kid you not. True story.
AND, before you ask, the child asking was NOT a 'special needs' but had left school with several goodish GCSE's!
I have had countless such experiences with supposedly educated young people and none of them particularly retarded.
Only the other night i had cause to explain to one of my own kids the little unimportant historical incident known commonly as the Reformation!
Not that the Reformation has any bearing on modern European politics does it now?
This is how I started off (and again no word of i lie): "Well you know there are that there are Xians who are called 'catholics', the are the ones who say it's wrong to use condoms and their leader is called The Pope? Back in the day the Popes were gangsters and conned people into buying 'places in heaven'. They conned hundreds and thousands of poor people throughout Europe. Then one day this German monk, called Martin Luther decided he'd had enough and so, cos back then that was like their internet, he nailed a big letter addressed to the pope on the door of a big church. The letter basically said 'Mr Pope, you ain't the fucking boss of me like'."
I am aware that that was an horrific oversimplification and grave misrepresentation of the historical facts...before anyone grizzles. But THAT is the level of a lot of teenagers general and historical knowledge.
And remember I'm talking about fairly bright kids here!
Jim, I have to agree with you entirely, but I think that the reason for the (let's be blunt here) poor calibre of teachers entering the profession is mainly down to the nature of the job these days.
I wouldn't last until dinner time trying to teach a bunch of nasty, unruly, aggressive, little gobshites threatening, abusing or trying to assault me.
They got rights you see, and what that means is they can do what the hell they like with no repercussions whatsoever.
As for "Teachers were equated in the public mind with social workers", it's only people with this aptitude who're prepared to put up with the crap dished out on a daily basis from the little darlings.
The addage of "Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach" is not a million miles away from the truth.
There are exceptions to the rule, as I know of some bloody good teachers, but the sad thing is their souls are sapped on a daily basis not only from the little darlings but dictats handed down from on high.
I've just completed a course at a FE college (as the oldest student by a factor of two!) - it was a revelation to experience full-time education again.
To cut a long story short - the lecturers who actually knew what they were talking about, who maintained order during class, who challenged infractions and actually carried out their threats to exclude - were respected by the remaining class. The lecturers who literally read a succession of text books out loud word-for-word for half the year were not.
All of the lecturers moaned about not having had pay rises for three years and the college's funding problems, but the ones who taught imparted more knowledge and enthusiasm to the students. They seemed to be the best qualified ones, too.
SBC, my young un left school in 2008. He came home telling me they don't teach about "Winston Churchill" no more cos he is a racist. He was however taught about the great and the good like "Nelson Mandela" and "Martin Luther King". Both pertinent to British history I know..Give me strength.
Here's another little pearl of wisdom by a teacher to the kids (bear in mind it's a special needs school). During the election, the teacher asked the class who they would vote for, one bright spark said the BNP. This teacher then said "The BNP were only about digging up German bodies".
I questioned the young un a little closer trying to find the context of the remark, and he said "The class asked what do you mean by that?" and he replied that "I have pictures of them but can't show you as it will scare the other kids".
I hold no truck with political indoctrination of any stripe in schools and think it's both morally and ethically wrong in a big way, but the cultural marxists have no problem pushing their political agenda.
Did you not find that the teachers who were good at the job were invariably those who had worked in the real world and not someone who went straight into teacher training straight after leaving school themselves?
If you google up some GCSE exams you might start wondering what 'teacher' means. I'd 'guess' that 50% of our kids are not being educated. I actually believe we should be protesting the cuts and the crushing of democracy by financiers and politicians. That our teachers can't stand up and complain for the real reasons only makes matters worse. We should stop the ejukation nonsense and get kids into work at 14 unless they can do school. The Yanks have only 25% of their teenagers in work and we are going the same way. 5 GCSEs equate to a tube of Smarties. Jobs would give a better education. National Service too. Teachers deserve no respect when they pretend to be raising standards as they really drop. Get the kids out of their hands.aco
Budvar, my youngest told me that all they did in History at school was 'The Romans and WW1'. He is actually quite knowledgeable about Trench Foot but couldn't tell you what led up to the WW1 if his young life depended on it!
Arch Duke Ferdinand is a pop group as far as he is concerned and Sarajevo "won the Eurovision like...didn't they DaaAAAd?"
My mother, once a teacher herself, bemoans that the kids today have no chronological historical framework to work with. With the result that if say the kids are watching something on TV that they can't guess as to the period it is set in.
Of course learning the dates of Kings by rote was not an optimal learning method but at least when I watch something set in the past then I can guess within the first few minutes as to when it is supposed to be.
And I then have an idea of the political,social and religious situation at the time.
Today's kids have none of that.
"The BNP were only about digging up German bodies"
The mind boggles....
Ah, the usual drivel from those who have never taught. Among the gems here are:
"I'm in a quiz team, one of the members is a teacher. He rarely knows the answer to a question, and never knows an answer that no-one else knows."
So, let me get this straight. A teacher is just a walking encyclopaedia? Is that all they have to be?
Wait, there's more about this quiz (this man clearly leads an exciting life: it's all about quizzes): "...read out by a woman who is a teaching assistant in a local school (she knows my friend professionally). She struggles to read the questions - she often has to ask people how to pronounce words."
So, they are supposed to be radio announcers too, right? Wow, there's a skill that is really essential.
We also have this: "while you on the other hand, love, look after the brats while I'm at work."
That's right. Teachers look after the brats so you can do your pointless job shuffling papers. Still, you ought to get together with Jim and do quizzes. probably nothing else to do all day.
Oh well, we can console ourselves with cliches elsewhere: "The addage of "Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach" is not a million miles away from the truth." Hmmm, shouldn't addage be adage? Never mind, when you can use cliches who needs know how to use a spell checker?
Thanks to all those who have never taught but 'know' about teaching for taking part. It's been a joy to listen to you.
Some teachers are pretty rubbish, but as a whole they seem nice enough and I would bracket them above doctors and lawyers, who are total leeching scum, by and large.
The trouble with teachers today is that they are trying to be the friends of the kids, do as you wish, prizes for all and kids don't respect that. They run riot.
Fair, firm and friendly was the golden rule and it worked. The reasons it fell away were in no small part due to the Frankfurt School teaching, the Lincoln School ed research and the stacking of teacher training institutions.
OK anon 16:29, your sole refutation to the allegation of piss poor teaching standards is "Know how to use a spell checker"?
Contrary to your assertion that "So, they are supposed to be radio announcers too, right? Wow, there's a skill that is really essential".
No and the OP implied nothing of the kind. What I (and no doubt he) would say is, that a better than average command of the English language with a vocabulary above 2 syllables for anyone in the field of education is not only a requirement but I have to say essential.
If you're a teacher, is it any wonder kids today lack any cognitive or subjective thinking capabilities when your standard of debate is up there with "Your mums fat" and "Yebbut (sic) you smell".
just say no, or - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSEYXWmEse8
'This is the calibre of the people we allow to educate children in this country.'
Two decades ago I enrolled on PGCE course at a highly reputable institution still considered a 'centre of excellence' in teacher training.
On my first day, we were asked about our own educational experience; the name of my obscure private school was greeted with a sharp intake of breath, but when I got to my Cambridge Degree, the course Director looked me in the eye and declared flatly, 'We don't want your sort here, acting like you know it all!'
The institution and I parted company after several increasingly acrimonious months; I now ply my trade in a very minor public school along with at least eight other Oxbridge MAs and a sprinkling of PhDs - many of us hunted out of the state system by the overbearing ideologies that have replaced professional ethics - working evenings and weekends to ensure our pupils have a thorough understanding of their subjects and as broad a range of cultural experience as possible.
Consider this when anyone mentions the seemingly unbridgeable gap between results in the independent sector and the state.
And instead of being bracketed with doctors and lawyers, teachers are now more likely to be classed with the local council staff whose strike they shared yesterday.
Well, were the lawyers and the doctors on strike? No? Might be the answer.
@ Anon 16:29
"Ah, the usual drivel from those who have never taught."
Not a safe assumption I would have thought, not given the anonymity of the intrawebz.
But even if you were, in this instance, right then you're sorely missing the point.
I can pretty much guaran-fucking-tee that every single poster here was TAUGHT at some time in their lives and is of an age and maturity that they can discern what they were taught, how well they retained it and how useful it has been to them during the course of their lives or put more simply 'how good their teachers were'.
Most of us here have also probably had kids and have over the years been able to compare how they are taught to how we were taught.
Guess what, across the rainbow spectrum of views, opinions and political leanings of the posters here pretty much everyone agrees that teaching standards haven't just slipped but stukka dived, crashed and burned.
Most of us also probably know exactly in what social regard we hold modern day teachers in general.
...and reading you post tells everyone why.
edit "...and reading you post tells everyone why."
That should have read 'your' of course. You can get the red pen out now...except of course you won't because as a modern enlightened teacher you know that no answer is wrong just 'differently right'.
oh oh oooOOOh.... I have just realised that 'anon' posted at 16:29...
Shouldn't he still be at school taking the 'Black Art Appreciation' Club?
I have absolutely no sympathy for Teachers ..
Like Politicians, they have brought about their lack of respect & status in the eyes of others all by themselves ..
And the Judiciary & Police are hot on their heels ..
@Anon: No I don't expect a teacher to be a walking encyclopedia. But I do expect an intelligent person to have some interests in life. Something they know about because they have studied it, been involved in. Could be anything, from stamp collecting to amateur dramatics to re-enacting the Civil War, literature, even sports.
All of which will give you some knowledge that will help you answer pub quiz questions (I am not denying my life is unexciting, that is rather irrelevant to the matter at hand). If you are a completely blank slate, how on earth can you impart any interest in your subject (and life in general) to your students?
As for the teaching assistant, I wasn't referring to her reading voice or manner (I would probably be much worse) I was referring to the fact she cannot pronounce words of more than a couple of syllables, and not even those if they are a bit unusual. Her sole interest in life seems to be going out at the weekend and getting bladdered, and seems to consider a night out without at least one unexplained injury as a waste of time and money. Again, fair enough if that's what floats your boat, but is that really the sort of person who should in charge of impressionable youngsters?
"Not ever having been a teacher means you are in no position to pass judgement on how good or bad any teacher is!" just has to be up there in the Top 10 Fatuous statements that will make your head explode.
Assuming for just a moment the statement were true why then have the farcfe of inviting little Jack and little Jill's parents, guardians or carers in for a "chat" about their progress or lack of. What is the point ? Unless they are teachers of course. But if they aren't how can they possibly hope to take on board the highly detailed infromation they are receiving. Jings a bleedin' mighty, even if I can't ride a bike if I see someone else attemoting to and falling over every 10 yards I think that I'm entitled to conclude "neither can they !"
It, teaching, is of course a three way deal - those being taught play a big part in the success or otherwise of the process, the parents of those being taught play a big part too - and I'd venture that there are far too many teachers who dump parents into one of two groupings - the plainly disinterested and thick and the overbearing and pushy 'know it alls' - maybe if they focused a bit more on the middle ground, those parents that want the best for their kids and are prepared to do what they can to encourage their kids to take the opportunity, it would be a start. And it would help if teachers could do (or were allowed to, if the oft heard complaint about being subject to overprescribed curricula and targets are true) a bit more to enliven things - I have suffered some really atrocious teachers as an ageing and aged adult, far far more than I actually suffered when at school, but that was a long long time ago. Quite a few of those "teaching me as an adult in specialised fields" couldn't hold a guttering candle up to the majority of my secondary school teachers.
My old comp was a failing school long before we knew what that meant. I learned survival skills but formal education ceased at eleven. Consequently, I will sell organs before I let young master SAOT attend a state school. He currently goes to a private nursery attached to a minor private school and it is "chalk and cheese" even at this age between this place and the state provision. I've done the maths, it's a Ferrari or Master SAOT being actually educated ~ no choice at all really.
BTW, I once lived with a teacher (house share after university years ago) and they were doing the Armada. No mention of Drake, or the fireships, or the problems of naval gunnery in 1588 or the whole reason for the conflict, know what the question was "how might you have felt if you were a sailor on a Spanish ship?" I kid you not).
I've done plenty of teaching. The gap is not between private and state - it's between selecting and the sump schools. There are no failing secondary schools where parents can't engineer where their kids go - like the Scottish Highlands.
We have dumbed down and my guess is that corruption is the reason. We are all in it and the common theme is gaming of targets.
That's not strictly true is it anon?
When it comes to teaching in the highlands, it isn't that they get better teachers, because from personal experience I can confirm this is far from the case.
They invariably get teachers (and especially head teachers) who are next to fucking useless and couldn't hack it in a modern comprehensive if their life depended on it, but where highland (and islands) schools win out is on class sizes of 11 kids over 3 consecutive years.
So a class of 11 kids being taught by a teacher and an assistant, with pupil teacher ratios like this the kids tend to do better in spite of teacher incompetence.
One of my teachers used to beat me with a stick or a snooker cue or some shoes and boots. He broke the snooker cue once, not on me but a class mate and was reprimanded because the snooker cue was not his to break, punishment - he was asked politely to replace the cue, reason for the assault - my class mate was talking when he should have been sleeping. The same teacher made me stand alone with my nose to the wall for a few hours until I needed a toilet break, this luxury was denied of course so I stood for a few more hours eventually falling to the ground with exhaustion in my own mess. Another favourite was setting after school hours maths work, like writing down times tables starting at 1x1=1 and continuing to 12x12=144, depending on how quickly and neatly I could complete this task I would then be set and English essay assignment that must contain a set amount of words, favourite titles included, 'the sex life of a ping pong ball at the bottom of the sea. These tasks could take all night but if I were to finish before day break quite often a ruler, torch, hula hoop and nail clippers were issued to cut grass on a sports field to a specific height within the confines of the circumference of the hoop.
This form of education was given to me some years ago and began at a pre teen age. It continued until I grew to equal his height at which point I challenged his authority and point. Shortly after my challenges started he died of a stroke and was replaced by a music teacher. My previous teacher had claimed to be a biology teacher although I had always doubted his qualifications in teaching or scientific experience.
I remember thinking when informed that my teacher had died, it’s sad that his wife and children have lost a husband and father but was just a little bit hopeful that my new music teacher replacement commands my respect without resorting to violence or torture.
The best teaching experience I can remember was sitting with my parents discussing possible career opportunities with my physics teacher who said it was difficult to teach me as I would regularly take my course work text books at the beginning of the year, memorise them verbatim in the first few weeks of the year, his comment on this behaviour was that I was ‘light years ahead of the class’, I interrupted the discussion about me to say ‘a light year is a measure of distance and as I sat in the same room as him and all my fellow students his comment made little or no sense’. His reply was, ‘see what I mean?’ I was quite young and bored then.
" I won't be holding my breath."
"Small wonder really given that both parents and government seem to treat them as such."
"How can you be in charge of young minds, and be responsible for giving them an education when you yourself have such narrow horizons? "
It's always amazed me too. Poor spelling and grammar is quite common in the school we still help out at (my mother worked there, and later became governor) - from the teachers, not just the pupils!
"There are exceptions to the rule, as I know of some bloody good teachers, but the sad thing is their souls are sapped on a daily basis "
Bring back good discipline and see an immediate improvement.
"Teachers deserve no respect when they pretend to be raising standards as they really drop."
"Ah, the usual drivel from those who have never taught. "
*sigh* Here we go, the modified Chickenhawk Argument.
"The trouble with teachers today is that they are trying to be the friends of the kids, do as you wish, prizes for all and kids don't respect that. "
Yup! Why haven't the progressives worked it out yet?
"...the course Director looked me in the eye and declared flatly, 'We don't want your sort here, acting like you know it all!'"
"Well, were the lawyers and the doctors on strike? No? Might be the answer."
Have they ever gone on strike? Doctors, maybe, but lawyers?
Can anyone imagine a world without lawyers..?
" Jings a bleedin' mighty, even if I can't ride a bike if I see someone else attemoting to and falling over every 10 yards I think that I'm entitled to conclude "neither can they !" "
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