Guest post – Is teaching a profession in crisis?
Guest post from Tall Sis today, ex-teacher and all round fabulous person. I was chatting to her the other day about an interesting post from the lovely ghostwritermummy; Michael Gove stands up for teachers at last, and there was such an outpouring of comment and opinion that I asked her to write it all down. And so she did.
I seethe with anger about the mess the education system has been allowed to get into, successive governments have mucked about gradually eroding the quality of education provided with the result that we have now a totally disjointed ‘system’ which lets down everyone.
Children not being cuddled is in a microcosm, an example of the changes in attitude within education which has been encouraged to treat children as units rather than individuals. A situation where each child is regarded in terms of cost, statistical relevance, and their potential to generate income does not foster an environment in which that child will be nurtured. Health and safety is used as an excuse to not get involved. Economics used as a reason for not allowing things to happen unless they are productive and cost effective. What happens in the classroom has become less what is good for the child and more what is good for the school.
Within this artificial ethos surrounded by mountains of paper describing a policy and a plan on every moment of the day, teachers are battling to achieve results which will mean that the school will get a respectable score on the yearly tables. They are constantly under pressure to ensure observations are recorded and tabulated, that their lessons are planned and filed. Not to mention all the new government initiatives they have to read and take on board, the displays and records of children work that have to be annotated and the meetings for each part of the curriculum that have to be attended.
It is therefore understandable that within this maelstrom, a child who is unhappy can easily be overlooked.
In my opinion Teaching has been a profession which has been in crisis for some time. The urge for academic rigour has been concentrated on to the exclusion sometimes of the need for a vocation. Many people who would have made excellent, nurturing early year teaching assistants or indeed teachers have been excluded through their lack of academic qualifications.The attitude that ‘those who can’t teach’ accompanied by the lure of secure employment, final salary pension and long holidays has resulted in a lot of people entering the profession who really have no business being there. It is still really difficult to sack a teacher, so someone who really doesn’t have the aptitude but is capable of completing all the paperwork, pull out the stops when being observed and can push information into their pupils sufficiently to pass relevant tests, can have a long career. But do we want this? Surely we want the best to be teaching. It seems to me that many of the best teachers do not survive in the current environment. Many of them leave the profession early, go to the private sector, or suffer ill health brought on by stress. Others become supply teachers to keep on teaching without the piles of admin but the children suffer from lack of continuity.
It needs sorting out. If Michael Gove is the man for the job, he needs to tackle the causes as well as the symptoms.