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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Do we need a Teaching Revolution?

For the last 18 months to 2 years the general  mood in teaching has changed. Stress levels are high and you would be hard pushed to find anybody who feels wholly satisfied with the new Curriculum 2014.

Now I acknowledge that there have always been 'the moaners' in staff rooms across the country, the teachers who gripe and complain about anything 'new.' But this is different, these few 'moaners' have turned into a tide of dissatisfied teachers who are totally unhappy. 

The dissatisfaction is not confined to the reasons lots of teachers were striking for recently namely pay, pensions and conditions. It is far more complex than that. Or is it really complex or in fact quite simple? 

Teachers are bogged down with paperwork. They are overwhelmed by marking, setting targets, showing evidence of progress to the point of madness and the constant drive to raise standards, that actually quite simply do the opposite, is at the root of it all. 

Teaching is for 90% of teachers vocational, I know this sounds all namby pamby and happy clappy but it happens to be true. Teachers love teaching, they are passionate about it. They love the pupils in their class and would, and do do, anything to ensure they make progress, or they did...

Until along came the new Government and an education minister whose only credentials for the job are that he was once a child and went to school. Yet we are seeing our education system based upon his own very limited experiences of education. 

Since the initial advent of the vast changes, teachers, the professionals that they are, have 'sucked it up', 'given it a go.' But have bit by bit realised things are not getting better for the pupils in their class, in fact things have gradually got worse.  

The fun and joy of learning has been sucked out of their classrooms, they no longer have time to plan engaging and inspiring lessons. Teachers are stressed and this has a direct impact upon the pupils in their class. 

Why do we do it? Why do teachers 'suck it up?" I think it's partly the drive to do their best no matter what and partly because it has become 'divide and conquer.' Teachers are in fear of their jobs as a result of cutbacks, academies and 'restructuring'. This results in a culture of fear and basic instinct is to look after yourself, an 'I'm alright Jack' attitude.

Some teachers are beginning to say 'whatever', whats the point of getting stressed, just get on with it, do what they can and ignore the rest and I can understand this stance but it doesn't really address the issue. The pressures are still there and they will not go away with a culture of apathy.

The situation requires action! Striking is an option but doesn't work unless everybody gets involved via one union and only then with the reasons for the strikes being made clear. What we need I believe is a quiet revolution. All teachers united in quietly not complying with unrealistic demands, getting on with the job they know how to do best, teaching! Planning exciting and engaging lessons and not worrying about the things that they know do not result in the progress they too desire for their pupils. This again would only work with teachers agreeing, supporting each other, stopping going into their rooms and shutting the door and not allowing themselves to be divided. Uniting and fighting back! We owe it to our pupils!!!!