Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Many Teachers 'not up to the job'

Many teachers 'not up to the job'
The teaching profession is in crisis with massive shortages in key subjects
and staff who are not up to the job, a report warned.

Under half of teachers in secondary schools are teaching the subject they
studied at university while only 45% of new primary school teachers have two
good A-levels.


This really annoys me. The headline suggests the story is about incompetence in the teaching profession. I thought when I say the headline it was going to be the usual hogwash about 'trendy teaching methods' and teachers who can't control their unruly students and so on - the usual bollocks produced by media outlets who like to flog teachers and teaching.

It isn't even that, however. All it reveals is that - gosh - there aren't enough teachers to go around, and shortages in some areas mean that some classes are being taught by teachers who are not specialists in that area.

This isn't teachers being 'not up to the job,' a nasty, surly line which implies a level of hopeless uselessness in the teaching profession. What the stroy reveals, infact, is that teachers are working frantically to keep the system going, putting themselves in miserable and streesful situations so that precious Jemima and Anthony ("With a soft 'T', you understand") will be taught everyday, while their smug parents skim this article and make a disapproving clicking sound at the back of their throat and think, "Those that can, do, those that can't teach."

The correct version of that saying is, "Those who smugly think 'Those who can, do, those who can't teach', are idiots, and would run screaming, trousers befouled, if confronted with a classroom of thirty surly and rebellious kids, while a teacher would simply get on with it."

If anyone can teach, why don't the brave and wonderful 'do-ers' take a couple of years out to show the slogging professionals how it is done? If all working adults did this, there wouldn't be a problem. Classes could be taught by people who were actually skilled in that area, who could impress the kids with their know-how, professionalism and success. It would be like conscription, right up to the possibility of being shot at, and once it was done, they really could sit smugly up there on the moral high ground and deride and belittle the people trying to educate their kids.

(Which begs the question - if schools are full of incompetent teachers, why aren't parents home schooling Jemima and Anthony? After all, anyone can do it, no?)

The reason people don't teach is because they all know it is bloody hard work, poorly rewarded and given little respect. So most people avoid it like the plague, because they know they couldn't do it. So they have to conceal their essential greed or cowardice from themselves, by deriding teachers. Cheapest of the cheap shots. The lazy headline of the article, the only part that a lot of people will read, re-infoces this idea.

Those that can, teach. Those that can't, knock teachers.

1 - Many teachers 'not up to the job', PA article, 9th July 2007.

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