Posts Tagged ‘cynicism’

D&T Pedawhaty?

Posted 14 Nov 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Rant

Its good to talk. We were having a nice chat in my department, and ended up with the view that we’re all going to hell in a hand-cart, teachers and students alike.

Okay, maybe its not that bad, but in these swingeing (who made up that word?) times it’s fairly easy to convince oneself that everything is rubbish.

Take the state of our D&T curriculum, f’rinstance. Hi-tech machinery that does everything for you, students not knowing which end of the ruler is the sharp end (I have literally seen a 14-year old lad hammering a screw into his work), greater pressures on teachers to produce which reduces the possibility of risk-taking in terms of classroom creativity, which in turn leads to more rigid projects, which leads to everyone doing the same, which results in a drop in student motivation, which results in teachers spoon-feeding, which results in everyone having a results-centred approach to D&T; in that all students want is to get the ‘thing’ at the end, which all leads up to the probability of any given student reaching the end of a project without having learning a flippin’ thing, merely having followed a series of stringent instructions as to how to construct some pre-fabricated kit with flashing lights that is guaranteed to capture their attention for the duration of the project but that has no real significance to the greater part of their lives, especially as they could buy something equally gaudy but more interesting from the poundshop or anywhere else you care to mention.

Doesn’t it make it all seem like a god-awful waste of time?

Yet D&T offers so much more than this – it is design, it is technology. What D&T is not is CDT – that look is so early-nineties.

I would really like to think that we have moved on from the ‘make this because I said so’ pedagogy, but to what? The problem is that you need that do-it-until-you’ve-learnt-it approach, if you’re to pick up the skills that you need later in the curriculum.

A spread of projects that reads ‘year 7 – laser cutter, year 8 – laser cutter, year 9 – laser cutter’ can result in only one thing come years 10 & 11, surely?

Yet what student honestly wants to know about tenon saws and housing joints when they can pop to Ikea for a full bedroom set for pennies?

In my experience each D&T department is better off when it wrestles with these questions – more alive, more searching. Each department will, at this point in history, have some sort of schizophrenia over which camp it sits in, even each teacher, even within each lesson.

Things aren’t as bad in my department as we were talking about, but the elephant is definitely in the room. My guess is that it’s not going away anytime soon.

And another (!) thing – touchscreens – everything has them now, but it’s not the sort of thing that you can use in the classroom. It makes us look so, well, basic.


Time for a TeachMeet?

Posted 19 Apr 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category diary, Ideas, Rant, thought

Okay, I want to meet teachers and students and anyone who can help me understand why education isn;t working (IMHO) and what we can do about it!

So I went to Becta-X and that was fun and techy and information overload but I didn;t feel that it really hit the mark for, just identified that there was a mark that was being missed.

It may have been there that I picked up the habit of writing really long sentences with no punctuation but I guess hey thats just speculation.

So anyway, there seem to be these things called Teachmeets, they are a type of ‘unconference‘ that you organise yourself and then people come along and you all talk and there’s no agenda and thats it.

This sounds perfect I just want to meet other people who think differently to everyone else and can kind of see there’s a problem and want to DO something and not just wait around for someone esle to do it and then complain that that wasnt what should have been done.

Fast Tube

Does anyone out there want to join me? I have no idea what I’m doing, othere than the speaking to other people thing which i believe  i already mentioned – i’m going to need a date a venue and a sponsor to start and somewhere along the way there’ l be people invited nad then it’ll happen and who knows what.

We also need a title – i was thinking of something like ‘SATs: Secret Agent Teachers’ as one that would bring together people who see that there is a deficiency in our current system but who also see that change will not come from that top, we have to be agents of change ourselves – hence secret ‘agents’.

This is for people who are in the system and want to change it from within.

So, are you with me? It would be really cool if you could join in, like I said, so just let me know or stay keen and then maybe I can eventually get to the end of this incredibly poorly-structured blog post.

You will hear more about this!!



PS: I’m looking at Friday 11th June as the date. We’ll do it in the evening, its after school, its the week after half term so teachers may have a chance of still being fairly fresh and we’ll keep it small and tidy and fun. Normal syntax will resume in the next post :)


Education: What do we DO?

Posted 13 Apr 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Ideas, Rant, thought

Reading this book at the moment “What’s the Point of Schools?” by Guy Claxton.

Very interesting, so much so that I want to spend the whole day reading it, neglecting the renovation of my campervan that i was going to do.

My wife tells me that I always do this, it’s like OCD or something, but then I lose steam after exhausting my interest and go on to something else.

Something tells me I should listen to her. I think this is important enough for me to take it slowly and let the interest build, so I’ll just post my impressions so far.

What I’m feeling at the moment is that it is extremely annoying that education in this country is not better. There are so many quotes, anecdotes and solid statistics over the last century, that for us to be in basically the same position is a joke.

It is a joke that makes me very angry, to be honest.

What i want to know is, what are we actually going to DO?

The whole system feels like its in gridlock – schools, students, parents, governments – no one can do anything because they are all tied up together in a vicious-circle, self-fulfilling prophecy state of affairs.

So this is what I’m thinking of doing.

At Becta-x the other week, I was talking to Kate who basically challenged me to run an unconference about education.

Damn it, it looks like that’s what we’re going to have to do, because I just don’t see any action out there at the moment to suggest otherwise.

I have no idea how to do this, so if anyone feels like coming on board, please give me a shout. We’re going to need people to turn up, too, so get prepared to spread the word.

We’ll start off small in a central London location, of an evening, so that teachers can attend. This will happen by the end of the school year.

I want to know what other people, face to face, have to say about education – any part of education – and what we can actually do to improve it.

That is all for now. I’m off to read my book – no, work on my campervan!




Good Breath (Typewriter Bubble)

Posted 11 Apr 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Stories, Typewriter Bubble

Click for a closer view



Posted 29 Mar 2010 — by cheersphilip
Category Rant

Its true. There is something wrong with our education system.

But if course, anyone who has gone through that system recently knows this. Those who went through it longer ago may have just hazy memories of how something wasn’t quite right.

There are two types of student; those who get school and those who don’t. Both types recognise that school is not for everyone, that there are people being left behind and treated badly. Its really not fun when those people are you.

If you say ‘school’ to most adults, it conjures up a negative image: the institution, the boredom. Positives too, if you probe: friends, inspiring teachers. Maybe even the odd person who found their passion at school.

Clearly this has to change. There are too many opportunities missed here, too many talents going undiscovered, un-nurtured. To many it seems that the resources for this are all there – the websites, the programmes, the courses, all in place. Yet not too many people, students and teachers, seem to be taking advantage of them. Why?

There is a malaise int he school system. Beaten too hard, pushed too far, are most teachers, students and parents (call them stakeholders, why not) just a bit strung out, not knowing what they should be doing?

Here is a list of ‘initiatives’ or programmes in education in the UK today. See if you can work out what they mean, and which are more important than the others.

  • 14-19 Specialised Diplomas
  • 14-19 Collaborative provision
  • Academies
  • Accreditation & Assessment
  • Adult & Community Learning
  • Apprenticeships
  • Behaviour Management
  • Budget Management
  • Building Schools for the Future (BSF)
  • Information, Advice & Guidance
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Community Leadership
  • Continuing Professional Development
  • Creativity across the curriculum
  • Developing school community programmes
  • Education/Business Links
  • e-Learning
  • Effective Use of Time & Resources
  • English as an Additional Language
  • Enhanced Learning
  • Enhanced Teaching
  • Every Child Matters (ECM)
  • Examination Skills
  • Extended Schools
  • Further Education Links
  • Future Schools
  • Gender Equality
  • Headteacher mentoring & coaching
  • Higher Education Links
  • ICT across the curriculum
  • Improving Attendance
  • Inclusion
  • Independent Learning
  • Initial Teacher Training
  • Innovation
  • International Dimension
  • Key Stage 1/Primary
  • Key Stage 2/Primary
  • Key Stage 3 Strategy
  • Kolb’s theory of effective knowledge transfer
  • Leadership Strategy
  • Lesson Planning
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Managing Change
  • Middle Manager training
  • Parents/Family Learning
  • Pastoral Care
  • Personalising Learning
  • Post-16 Education/Participation
  • Primary/Secondary Transition
  • Pupil Mobility
  • Pupil Tracking/Assessment
  • Recruitment
  • Residential Trips
  • Rural Dimension
  • School Design
  • Self-evaluation and school performance data analysis
  • Self-Review and Quality Assurance
  • Special Schools
  • Special Educational Needs
  • Student Voice/Leadership
  • Training & working with Adults other than Teachers (AOTTs)
  • Vocational Education
  • Interactive Whiteboards
  • Wireless Networks
  • Work-based training & vocational providers
  • Working with Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs)
  • Workforce Remodelling
  • Work-related learning

Please bear in mind that this is not a complete list of things going on, yet teachers are expected to have at least nodding acquaintance with all of these terms. Why?

What is the difference, for instance, between work-based training and wok-related learning? Significant, for those involved in these two distinct areas, no doubt.

But can you see where this is going? Where is the bullet point that says have fun, enjoy your life, explore your potential – live the dream! Well, its there. Its in the Every Child Matters agenda. Fantastic. Now we have a bullet point to remind us to make sure kids have good lives.

What kind of crazy system do you need to be running when you need a bullet point to remind you to encourage children to live their lives?

Of course, you might argue that this is the whole point of education – that it is implicit. Very well, I counter, but how can you be sure that this is not getting lost in the mire of initiatives that bombard the practitioner? How can you know wether the teacher is more interested in their pupil tracking, than in preparing them for an unknown future? Which one will come up in their next performance review?

Education is stuck in a malaise. Maybe not all of it, and certainly not everyone in it, but its there. Things need to change.