Monday, 25 January 2010

Shamelessly Stupid

So here's the thing. A bit over a week ago, the Tories unveiled a plan to 'deter' people with Thirds from entering the teaching profession. Obviously designed to get pretty much everyone's back up, this policy was billed as 'shamelessly elitist'.

Except it's not, if they meant it in any kind of meritocratic sense. The last thing teachers need to be judged on is the class of their degree or where they obtained it. Teaching is not a profession that rewards you for your paper credentials: it is a war of attrition, fought and won in the trenches.

Well, that's probably overstating it a little - the fact is that every class is different, and every class is the same. Your job is to get as many pupils in your charge as possible to leave the classroom with knowledge and/or skills improved from when they entered it. All day, every day. And kids are complicated. And what worked wonderfully with 8x3 period 2 on Tuesday won't work with them period 4 on Friday, because Dylan broke up with Lindsay at lunchtime and Shannon's farted whilst you were telling Liam off for stabbing Jamie with his biro and anyway it's Friday so why should they have to even be in school anyway, and this is boring. What's needed is good communication skills, enthusiasm, ideas, energy, patience, a spare whiteboard marker, and a green pen. And even then, you're not guaranteed success - but it is these skills and sundry stationery items, none of which are measured in your first degree certificate, which are what make you good at the job (and these are skills only really developed by doing the job).

In case you were wondering, under Cameron's scheme I would not be one of the losers. But if I am any good at my job today (and I still feel I have a heck of a lot to learn), it has very little to do with how much of my degree modules I remember, and everything to do with what I have learnt simply doing the business of teaching. I have met TAs with far more natural feel for kids' needs than I will ever display. I love my job, I think it's the best thing in the world. But it's not what my BA says or the name of the institution on it that will help me to succeed at it.

And others agree.

No comments: