Dumbing Down

If you have read ‘Grammar Control Systems’ (06.11.12) you will remember my colleague who had her own ideas about education, influenced as she was by her teacher-training at a university with academics in (!) As a new teacher it had only taken her a few weeks to realise that the philosophies underpinning her training were at odds with central government control systems. The following article from the TES reveals just how dangerous the government regards these pesky academics with their ‘tremendous expertise’:

PGCE courses could close as schools take responsibility for trainees

PGCE courses could close as schools take responsibility for trainees.
A major overhaul of teacher training being introduced next year will cause “huge disruption” and put long-established university departments with “tremendous expertise” at risk of closure, experts have warned.
The government’s radical changes will encourage schools to take responsibility for training thousands of new recruits who would previously have studied undergraduate and PGCE courses.

Etc etc

You can read the whole article here:


Top down lock down!

Here is a quote from Ken Robinson speaking at a Royal Society for the promotion of the Arts (RSA) event in 2009

“Getting back to basics includes recognising that great education requires great teaching; it’s not enough to know your discipline, great teachers have to know how to engage people, and great teachers do. And what, really, I think most people find exasperating is when – well intentioned as they are – politicians decide they’re going to take control of a process they don’t know, promote ideas they only half understand and remove the one thing which improves education which is the discretion and creativity of the people actually doing the work.”

(If you don’t know Ken Robinson just put his name into Youtube for a number of interesting talks he has given in recent years).

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On exams…

Here is the apparently extra-terrestrial ‘Mein Herr’ holding forth on the subject of exams from a book by Lewis Carroll (an Upas tree is a poisonous tree):

Oh this Upas-tree of Competitive Examinations! Beneath whose deadly shade all the original genius, all the exhaustive research, all the untiring life-long diligence by which our fore-fathers have so advanced human knowledge, must slowly but surely wither away, and give place to a system of Cookery, in which the human mind is a sausage, and all we ask is, how much indigestible stuff can be crammed into it!…Yes, crammed,” he repeated.

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A demoralised colleague

I sent the following message to a fellow teacher who has been treated with contempt by those employed to support and guide her. She had taught a literacy lesson to a class of five and six year olds. Some of the children had used ‘ellipsis’ (as a set of dots) in their writing because they had learned about these three little dots earlier in the week. The children knew about them and were intrigued by them and by their special name: ellipsis. The management/observers regarded this as reason enough to dismiss the entire lesson as ‘inadequate’. Curiously they felt the need to ‘reassure’ this particular teacher that she was an outstanding teacher but – due to the grave matter of five year olds messing around with dots – the lesson in question had to be judged as ‘inadequate’.

A message of support:

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Grammar Control Systems

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
Oscar Wilde

We had an INSET about teaching grammar today. The DfES have decided to jiggle the curriculum about and, as part of this process, the teaching of grammar has been redefined. This means some aspects of grammar have become more or less important and the order that these grammatical elements should be taught has been tinkered with. The whole process is petty. The DfES reasserts its position over and above ordinary teachers while achieving nothing of real value.

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