The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Will Schools Be Free Or Not?

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 21, 2010 @ 21:24

He works in the Roman Catholic church down the road

We are told that the goal of some of the education reforms will be to free schools of burdensome regulation regarding the National Curriculum. This seems like a noble goal. After all, we want to trust teachers. They know best. Free them to unleash the spark of creativity that the rigid system often doesn’t allow them to do.

When this subject crops up, it’s often the idea that teachers should be free to use whatever inspiration they need to do the task in hand. And so they should. They are the professionals, right? They’re going to know the best way to motivate their classes, engage them in their subject. Not whinging parents, right?

Wrong.

In the past few years, when I harboured ambitions of being a teacher (note the past tense), I met some truly inspiring ones. They could take almost any subject and fit their unique way of thinking around it. Even with a prescriptive curriculum, there was always flexibility in the method of delivery. You want to teach the facts of something in a song? Well, go for it. Poetry? ICT, with whizzy flashes and zooming thingys? A game? You got it.

Teachers like that, while still frustrated by how bureaucratic teaching has become, still found ways around it. That’s, of course, because they’re Good Teachers.

The problem is that in our new age of parent power, and schools having to fight tooth and nail for pupils, schools have to listen to what everyone has got to say. Even if they’re idiots and don’t understand what teaching is all about. Not what they think teaching is all about. I assure you, it is not what it was even 10 years ago, let alone when most of the moaning parents in the news article featured above were in school.

In the future, if the present government enacts what it says it believes in, we may well see more stories like this. If more schools are freed to pursue curricula and qualification specifications in much looser ways, more teachers will be persuaded to put their own spin on what they’re being asked to do. And more freedom will inevitably mean more disparity. More disparity means even more of a postcode lottery than now.

Parents need to decide. Do they want schools to be free to run their own affairs, responding to the needs of “local” people, with all the good and all the bad that may bring, or do they want centralised, rigorously controlled institutions, which may not be very creative, but might at least have a better network of bureaucratic support and minimum standards?

Do we trust teachers to do their job? Because if we do, “Simpsons lessons” be only the beginning.

Your call, electorate.

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