I want to fix schools for three groups of people
And I think that we need to fix them in that order. I know, you will all think that I am crazy, we have to make things better for the kids in the schools before we can begin to think about anyone else. We need to make kids happy little scholars before we get around to making school more bareable for the teachers. And we need to do that before we get around to making it so that parents understand what actually goes on in a school.
And that is all admirable. It is important that we put the child at the centre of everything, yes yes yes. Of course, the only reason that we have schools is to educate children (or is it for cheap childcare? I forget…) We all know that a good education is a magic bullet to getting out of a cycle of poverty. We know that if you want to fix a broken country, the best way is to educate the women.
So, we need to begin with the children, right? Wrong.
If we are going to have schools, then we need to have teachers in them. The teachers, although many are wonderful human beings, do not teach for free. They teach because it is a steady job, with some nice holiday time. And we want to make it so that we get the best teachers.
Now, at the moment in the UK, “best teachers” means teachers that have at least been to university to study in their chosen field and also have spent a year training on a PGDE course.
I have yet to meet a teacher anywhere who says they learned anything useful on their PGDE course. It is full of educational psychology, and mysterious words like “pedagogy”. These courses seem to be written and run by ex-teachers who don’t remember what it is like to be in a classroom anymore.
I could write more about what I think is wrong with training teachers, but I want to talk about parents.
Parents, for the most part, passively support the school that they send their children to. They trust that mostly the school knows what is going on, and what should be happening. They support their children the best they can, offering assistance and advice on homework if they can.
There are another group of parents who believe that they are supporting their children if they will argue with the school over every detention, de-merit or any form of accusation against their children.
We need to explain to parents what supporting a school actually looks like. We need to take the parents into school and tell them what is going to happen, and why. It needs to be an ongoing conversation with the school and the parents.
The last people we should involve are the kids. Until we get staff who are motivated, not bewildered, and parents who know how to speak to the teachers of their children, we cannot hope to offer the best education to anyone.