Wow, Summer 2012 seems like so long ago now, but I have finally written my response to the first part of the directive. Like all my other writing this took a back seat while I focussed on my recovery from BPD and finding a job, but as it is now done and I thought it was really interesting I thought it would be nice to share with you, I hope you enjoy it and why not share your own experiences in the comments below!? 🙂
So I present to you Massobs Summer Directive Part 1 –
Schools, teachers and pupils
Please start by listing the schools and colleges you attended up until the age of 18. You don’t have to provide the full names of the places but it would be useful if you could indicate what kind of institution they were. If you were educated at home or did not attend formal education please give details.
Are you, or have you ever been, employed in education (in any capacity)? What sort of job do/did you do? What is/was it like?
I haven’t, although I did volunteer in my children’s infant school helping out in reception and year 1 classes for a while, mainly just sitting reading with the children and providing general help around the classroom for the teachers. I have done my PTTLS (Preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector) qualification and am considering completing the DTTLS (Diploma) to enable me to teach in colleges as I would like to teach adults, but would not like to teach younger children.
Your perceptions of teachers
What are the first five words which come to mind when you think of a teacher?
What do you remember about your own teachers? Can you describe your favourite teacher? Can you describe your worst?
I remember teachers always seemed to be really old to me and I looked up to them as holders of knowledge, inspirational although I didn’t want to be like them as I couldn’t stand the idea of having to control 30 children for 5 days a week. My favourite teacher was Mr Fisher, he was class teacher for my year 4 (what would now be year 6), final year of junior school. I loved his classroom it was the biggest in the school and he had jars full of animal skulls and other interesting things on shelves by the door, whilst in his class we were the first in the school to get a computer in our classroom because he was interested in moving forward with the times. The worst teacher I remember was Mr Jordan he smelled bad and was always just rude and not nice to us kids, I wondered why someone who clearly didn’t like children would chose to teach as a job.
What kind of people do you think choose to become teachers? Why do you think they teach?
I think people who become teachers are keen to share knowledge with others, especially children and must want to work with helping children learn and develop into well-rounded adults (even though the reality is not necessarily as good as the ideal).
Images of teachers
Can you think of any examples of representations of teachers in books, films, or television? Please give details and say whether you think these images are positive or negative.
I think there is quite a mix in the way teachers are portrayed in books, films and television there are some positive representations but on the whole I think negative representations outweigh the positives. When I was younger I watched Grange Hill and you had everything from the bullying PE teacher to the meek, bookish English teacher, I think the roles were very stereotyped back then. Now you have programmes like Waterloo road where so many of the teachers fit newer stereotypes – the older teachers are grumpy and hate the children they teach but there are far more younger teachers in television today who have the same faults and stereotypes you see in other current media, drug problems, teachers sleeping with pupils, cheating husbands it’s all so much more about shock and drama so I wouldn’t consider the representations to be very positive in most instances and the same sort of portrayals are evident in books and films.
What about how teachers are represented in the news? Are teachers and the issues relating to their profession represented adequately?
I don’t think teachers are fairly represented in the news, mainly the only times you ever really hear anything about the teaching profession is when there is either a major incident involving a school or teachers are going on strike over pay conditions, or schools are being highlighted for failing government standards such as ‘Ofstead’ inspections or poor exam results. The day to day representation of the profession is unfair and inadequate in showing the pressures educators have to deal with – everyone gets the impression that they work 5 days, 9am till 4pm and have lots of holidays but the reality is that they spend many hours outside the times in class writing lesson plans, marking work and other preparations for classes or running before/after school activities on top of their normal working hours, and they cannot take holidays or have time off at other times outside the scheduled school holidays so they miss out on a lot of what the rest of us can take advantage of such as term-time cheap deals for vacations.
How do you think the public image of teaching has changed over the years? Is it better or worse? What do you think has influenced these changes?
I don’t think the public image of teaching has changed much since I was young, it was and still is represented as the old joke “Those that can do, those that can’t teach” and despite televisions adverts trying to inspire people to consider a career in teaching the lack of positive images of the profession beyond these advertisements discourages people from entering the profession. I think the media in general has a lot to do with the influence of the image of teaching, and peoples own school experiences also influence how they view the profession.
What do you think school is like for children and young people today? How different do you think these are compared to your own experiences?
I think that there is a lot more pressure on young people from a younger age now with regard to examinations, SAT’s tests and schools being required to meet targets. Other than that in general I think school hasn’t changed much looking at what my children have experienced, bullying is still commonplace and teachers are still a mixture of people who actually like kids and want to inspire and educate them and those who you wonder why they became teachers cause they seem to hate children. I think playtime isn’t as much fun as it was when I was little because health and safety over obsession restricts the freedom to gain bumps and bruises from fun rough and tumble play. Computers also seem to have a major impact and are probably ‘dumbing down’ a lot of kids as they can just Google anything now and get the answers they need where as we used to actually have to go to a library, find a book and read about things to learn and find answers for assignments. Actually another thing I recall my daughter doing her GCSE’s and on her coursework she and her class mates were practically told what to write to get a higher grade so that the school would achieve its targets – that kind of thing would never have happened when I was at school, it had to be all our own work.
What kind of education should children experience? What should they be taught? How should they be taught? Who decides? Who should decide?
I think children need a wider experience in their education that doesn’t just include academic, bookish importance, not everyone learns well that way, and there should be more hands on work. They should be taught a range of life skills in addition to the national curriculum, financial education should be more important for running a home, avoiding bad debt and having a secure future; along with skills such as basic DIY. They should be taught using a variety of methods that don’t just rely so heavily on technology and computers as it seems is becoming the norm now, like I said hands on stuff, vocational training needs to become more important again. Over all the government still decides what is taught in schools at the moment with the ‘National Curriculum’ specifying what must be covered, but I think it should be a more localised decision in the hands of the individual schools based on local need and pupil abilities.
Are there any subjects/topics that you consider to be vital to a child’s education? Or is there anything currently taught in schools that you consider to be ‘old fashioned’ or unnecessary? Is there anything that you weren’t taught at school but wish you were?
I think foreign languages should have higher priority and be taught from a much younger age, as well as a wider selection of languages being available, Globalisation is increasing all the time and not being able to speak a second language is holding back UK children in comparison with their European counterparts. As I said above financial education bills, pensions, debt, mortgages are all things that need to be covered far more as global debt and poverty are on the increase and people are not educated in managing their money well enough to survive, they just spend beyond their means with no consideration of their own futures. Citizenship, which has been introduced as a subject in recent years I thing should also take a higher priority teaching young people about the society in which they live, the laws and governance of the land and politics these things are important in shaping the future of our country and it’s place in the world. Unless they can make them more relevant to the modern world I think geography, history and religious education are unnecessary and should be optional subjects, if they are still taught in the same formats as when I was at school (which they seemed to be when looking at what my children were learning) they have no real use in modern society – religious education needs an over haul so you actually learn about religion in a useful way, the same applies to geography and history; all three are important subjects in their own way but the application has been wrong for some time. I wish I had been taught citizenship and financial education along with more practical things for running a home, basically all the things I have said I think should be taught now!
Assessment and qualifications
What do you think about assessment (exams, coursework, qualifications etc) in schools? Are school pupils over assessed? Or perhaps they are not assessed enough?
I think there are a lot more problems with examinations now than there used to be, the pressure for schools to meet certain targets in results and league tables is putting extra pressures on pupils as well. I think regular assessments are important to check a child’s progress and get them help and support in areas they are struggling if they need it, but I don’t know how they can continue to do this and fulfil the targets whilst reducing the pressure it causes, there needs to be a better balance. I think end of course/year exams are less useful than ongoing continuous assessment in showing how well or not a pupil is achieving.
Do you think examinations are harder or easier? What impact do you think examinations have upon pupils? Do you think this is similar or different to your own experiences?
I don’t think examinations, in particular GCSE’s which there has been a lot of fuss about in the past few years, are easier than they were when I was at school but I do feel that ongoing assessment rather than traditional end of year exams may be a better approach, even now when I am studying I prefer courses that give me lot’s of assignments that are assessed throughout the course than courses with a big exam at the end because I struggle under the pressure of only having that 1-3 hours of the exam to be able to demonstrate my knowledge fairly, as result my marks in such exams are 10-20% less than what I get in ongoing assessments and can bring my overall achievement score down by a whole grade, I’m sure the same applies to many students!
Schools in your area
What types of schools are near you? Who runs them? Are they selective or comprehensive? Are they an academy? Independent? Are the physical buildings in good shape or in poor condition?
I don’t know a lot about most of the schools where I live as my own children are now in college and I don’t feel the need to keep in touch with what schools are good/bad like I did when my children were younger. I have noticed in local newspapers that the majority of high schools in the area are now academies, which I believe means they are no longer run by the local authorities and can be more selective in accepting pupils. Other than that I think all other schools in the area are comprehensive, local authority run, I don’t think there are any independent schools. While I don’t think it has an impact on the education provided there does seems to be an abundance of Catholic schools in the area, but I think they are not like the Catholic schools where I used to live ( i.e. you don’t have to be catholic to attend them here). From what I have seen driving around the area the school buildings are not as old as those where I used to live and appear to be in a fair state of repair, but I suspect that they could probably do with being fixed up or replaced in the near future as most schools across the country have been standing for very long times and are nearing the end of their useful lives…
Have you ever had to make a decision about where to send a child to school? What factors influenced your decision? Were you/are you happy with your decision? What advice would you give to adult/carer when they are making a decision about where to send a child to school?
I had to decide which schools to send my children to when they were younger, for primary education location was the key factor for me, I wasn’t interested in league tables, a school that was close so the children could make friends locally was more important. But, when it came to secondary schools I was more interested in avoiding what I considered to be the key failings of my own secondary education; I didn’t want my children to go to single-sex schools, feeling it was important they learn to be ‘friends’ with the opposite sex throughout their schooling; I also didn’t want me children to go to a massive school, there were 10 classes per year group in my secondary school, far too many pupils to get lost in, I felt a smaller school would provide a closer relationship between pupils and tutors who would be less likely to forget your name because of the sheer volume of kids passing through their doors each day. Location was less important, but I still didn’t want my kids to have to travel too far for school as it would mean that they would not get to see their friends much outside of school. I was happy with my decisions when it came to my daughters education but with my son additional factors came into play, he had special educational needs that needed to be catered for, overall due to the lack of suitable schooling for children with autism I felt that his education was a letdown, I did the best I could with the available options but the options were poor and I don’t think he really got the help and education he needed. If I were advising another adult/carer I would just say that they should base their decision on what would best suit their child, and as each child is individual and different this means there is no advice that will fit everyone, you really do have to take your time to look at all the options available and make the most informed decision you can given the options available to you and your child.
What was your experience of school and teachers?
Do you have any strong memories of school life?
What subjects would you have liked to learn at school that you didn’t?
- Taking the human component out of teaching (thegrumpygiraffe.wordpress.com)
- Dyspraxia Awareness Training (designset.wordpress.com)
- The Age of Opportunity (peacefulexchange.wordpress.com)
- Investing in Education (alkansiyanijuan.wordpress.com)
- Reading Log (thatoekyawslcc.wordpress.com)
- The Transformative Power of Education (newteachersblog.wordpress.com)
- On “building readiness” to see learning (mrwilliamsmaths.wordpress.com)
- The Evaluation: schooling at the end of teaching, unions, & care (mrwilliamsmaths.wordpress.com)
- Kangaroo Maths – Kenny’s Pouch – Assessment Resources for GCSE Maths (Key Stage 4) (mrwilliamsmaths.wordpress.com)