The word ‘school’ has, in the last ten years, become synonymous with: exams, stress, politics and an overarching theme of failure. And who is being failed? Our children…
When looking for the answer, the knee-jerk- reaction is to point at those first in the firing line, the teachers. “But how can teachers successfully educate children to think for themselves if teachers are not treated as professionals who think for themselves?” Diane Ravitch’s point is at the core of failing schools.
Teachers are attacked on a daily basis. In the media they are portrayed as, ‘failures’ and ‘lazy’. People love to joke about the amount of holidays teachers have and say, ‘How can you be stressed when you finish at 3 everyday?’ Politicians are the first to speak about doing more for ‘the children,’ and blame those in education for not doing enough. Yet they jump like mad hatters from one ill researched policy or curriculum to the next. At the end of the day all the madness is placed at the feet of the teachers, to wade through endless bureaucratic nonsense, in the vein hope that if given the time, they could actually do the job they used to love and that is to teach.
In the last ten years we have seen 5 different Education ministers. The current Education secretary Justine Greening has an MBA in Economics, but what does she know about the pedagogy of education? Teachers are taking orders and are forced to implement changes in curriculum, given to them by people who have not studied the basic philosophies that inform teaching and best practice.
As a teacher, I would not have the arrogance to assume that I could turn up at a hospital and perform heart surgery. Yet it would seem many think they know how to teach as, ‘they all went to school’. This pretence of others ‘knowing what’s best in the classroom’ is what is holding our schools back.
Teachers need to be given back control of their domain and be given respect that they, as educated people, know what they are doing. This is not an article against change, but rather pointing out where change is most needed. We need to change our attitudes. Schools are failing our children as we no longer trust them.
Nobody cares more for your child than their teacher yet it has become popular to question a teacher’s every move, something that signals a deep mistrust of teachers to do a good job. For our schools to get better the working environment within them needs to change and the attitudes of parents and government needs to become one of mutual respect and support.
“When people are trusted to do their job Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance.” Paul J. Zak (Founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and a professor of economics, psychology, and management at Claremont Graduate University. More on his neuro scientific report can be read here. )
It is my assertion that if we build relationships of trust between parents and teachers, and that government and senior leaders in schools stop looking at teachers as failures, and rather as qualified individuals who have a passion and a calling to do their job, that if trusted, will do just that.
They will work hard, as they always do, but with the new found respect, they will naturally want to do more. As a result teachers will come up with fun and exciting lessons, as they won’t be afraid of trying new things. They will be trusted to meet the needs of the class but do it in their own way, giving personality and individuality to each classroom.
This revive and energy will hopefully then inspire children to fall in love with learning again, as it can be fun! Teachers will be happier; in turn children will feel less stressed and probably score better as a result. Trust needs to be given fully, and yes this means we are vulnerable to being let down, but that is the crux upon which it works. No good teacher wants to let their students down; no teacher wants to see children fail. So trust them, the results may just surprise you!