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Sunday, 24 April 2011



David_StarkeyAccording to Dr David Starkey, the TV historian and author, the state of education in Britain is dire, not because of bad teachers but because the lack of discipline in classes and schools mean that even the very best of teachers would not be able to get through to the pupils.  Despite massive salaries being paid to qualified teachers, to head teachers and super heads; and despite the immense amount of money spent on resources and computers, all is failing because of a lack of attention to the obvious - the children cannot, or will not listen, because the teachers, really, have no authority to make them.  And they have no authority, or little authority, because both the schools and the law will not give them any.  
This is not rocket-science of course: our Victorian great-grandmothers could have told us all of this: that teaching and learning and children do not flourish where freedom, over-equality and a total free-for-all prevails.  What does flourish is mayhem.  The children think it is great: that they can muck about, jump on desks, assault staff and not learn anything at all.  But then they would: they are children after all.  What amazes us all is not that the children are quite happy with this, at least quite a few of them some of the time; but that the governors, the full-time teachers and the heads and super-heads can put up with it and pretend that it is really not as bad as that.  But Dr David Starchy thinks otherwise.
At one point he refused to teach.  Correction: at one point he refused to attempt to teach.  He added that what struck him about teaching and learning in schools is that you spend hardly any time teaching the subject.
“You are like a lion tamer dealing with savage beasts.  The saddest thing is that you totally fail to get through.  The children are destroyed by this process. It is unkind to students and to teachers.  The idea was if you get a group of wonderful teachers and then the kids will respond and do wonderful things.  This is not possible without the right structure and ethos in the school.”  Amen to that!  But he is only stating the obvious.
Why is it that politicians, leaders and Church leaders cannot see, or do not want to see the obvious? Why is it that we are all involved to some extent in a conspiracy of silence not to state the obvious because, my goodness, it needs stating?  How long can the debacle of modern “education” go on before we realise that it is costing us plenty and we are getting nothing or little out of it; indeed we are storing-up trouble for the future.  My experience is in schools and to some extent in post-16 education. I can confirm all of Dr Starkey’s pertinent observations.  It has been going on since the ending of corporal punishment in 1986.  Hardly surprising, really, but so few seem to wish to couple the cause and effect together, despite all the emphasis on cause-and-effect in modern science.  It is just not politically expedient or rather politically correct.
So long as the teachers and the teaching super-heads draw their salaries it does not matter if no teaching goes on at all.  When will the tax-paying public begin to realise that schools are in danger of becoming one big tax-mulching scheme for the benefit not of education and the pupils but the staff who keep these zoos and adopt “survival techniques” for the animals which live in them!
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