Sunday, 4 April 2010

Education, no puppy, and poorly nans

I have been un-posting, as I've been visiting my nan in hospital, necessitating a trip only to be told they don't allow children in the ward, meaning a sorely disappointed great-grandmother had to do only with her grandaughter, instead. I am very worried about her, grateful to still have a nan (she is 90) but so worried I might not have. However, her stringent gossiping in a loud voice about all the other ward occupants heartened me, she is hopefully going to be fine.

I have been pondering what a Conservative win would mean for me job-wise in the next election, and as such have studied their education manifesto. I will be back at work post-kids in 2012, and maybe under the Conservatives. Conservatives always give such an earbashing to current history teaching, one would think that being a history teacher under them would be a wonderland, but no. My main worry is their emphasis on setting and streaming. As a history teacher, you are in position to see what mixed ability teaching all the way through really does. ALL other subjects strip children down into lower, intermediate, and higher at GCSE, so all GCSE teaching EXCEPT history is streamed. History has a "one size fits all" paper, so classes can be mixed ability all the way (although some schools will stream regardless). I can honestly say hand on heart that a "higher" child has NEVER been dragged down by the lower in their class, in all my years teaching. However, I have seen many children dragged UP by the simple virtue of having high expectations of them, and seeing their peers do well. In a lower ability class, how many times would a student have the chance to hear higher level discussion? In a mixed, I taught group work so that the higher ability would impart knowledge to lower, thereby learning themselves, and teaching others. I have seen students deemed "lower" in other subjects come out 2, even in some cases, 4 , grades higher in history. I could go on, but this says it all. It's by Peter Dixon.

Oh bring back higher standards-
the pencil and the cane-
if we want education then we must have some pain.
Oh, bring us back the gone days
Yes, bring back all the past...
let's put them all in rows again - so we can see who's last.
Let's label all the good ones
(the ones like you and me)
and make them into prefects - like prefects used to be.
We;ll put them on the honours board honours ought to be,
and write their names in burnished script-
for all the world to see.
We'll have them back in uniform,
we'll have them doff their caps,
and learn what manners really are
...for decent kind of chaps!
So let's label all the good ones,
we'll call them A's and B's-
and we'll parcel up the useless ones
and call them C's and D's.
We'll even have an E lot!
And F and G maybe!
So they can know they're useless,
and not as good as me.
For we've got to have the stupid-
And we've got to have the poor
If we don't have them...
Well, what are prefects for?

There is a debate to be had about behaviour in class, but that is different. Behaviour is not down to intelligence, I've had clever and dimmer kids misbehave. The Conservative answer of Army officers in class is another matter I will address, when i've stopped laughing........
And the no puppy bit? Easter Sunday was spent at Wood Green animal shelter, from which we returned animal-less, no, not even with a small animal that would die soon. Hard hearted mum wins the day. No house training of animals until the kids are house trained. 10 at least.

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