Facebook Memories are a clever way of trying to convince users that they say useful/important things once and it is worth sharing that again 1, 2, 3 or more years down the line. Of course, it is just to encourage users to use – there is no deep-rooted altruism and/or client support!
I was reminded today through Facebook Memories of a former rant of mine, and my main inclination for printing it here [I am not sharing on Facebook] is that I have tried to stop Facebook rants but am rather proud of this one so will share instead on this blog.
It also links to a previous post on this blog here about school uniform, so there is a direct connection. More importantly, as I say in the original rant, this is all a false avenue diverting attention from the real issues and nothing in this respect has changed.
For example, last week’s Association of School and College Leaders’ conference was informed by political and other non-professional interference with nothing other than deflection and diminution on offer: there was Theresa May’s continued fatuous infatuation with promoting grammar schools [supported in the Spring budget at the very time new funding arrangements are decimating school finances across the country]; Justine Greening’s appearance at the conference to ape this promotion to the universal dismissal of professionals, and new Ofsted Head Amanda Spielman also there to attack schools/Heads that remove students from certain examinations [and similar tactics] to improve attainment/meet targets.
That latter factor is of course a reality, but the reasons for it are ironically – and appallingly so – because of decades of irrelevant target setting and consequent school bashing for failures to meet the merely measurable. The point is that these interlopers – all with investment, accounting, banking and similar backgrounds and precious little experience in and of Education – dominate and destroy the educational landscape and any attempt it has to define itself through professional narratives.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that Heads and others even in education, desperate for something to control – but also and obviously those outside of it – fall back on the trivia of the impact of school and teacher uniform/dress.
I entered teaching in 1980 and there was much then that was about teaching by teachers, either specifically about my subject English or more generally. There was Bullock Revisited which ignited thinking about and practice of oracy [Speaking and Listening], and even the Cox Report and its programmes of study had some professional sense to its prescriptions.
I entered the profession at a time when John Dixon, David Holbrook and Peter Abbs – among others – had much to say that was inspirational about teaching English. There was the Resources for Learning Development Unit work that introduced new approaches supported by materials for English teachers – and I would spend weekends producing my own similar ones, enthused by the ideas and positive responses from my students.
Where is that same professionally focused work today, either general or subject-specific? And even if it does exist, who has the time to pursue and engage when the targets and all the attendant pressures of that dominate – dominate school leaders and teachers?
There is, I know, some – I have reviewed it here: Making Poetry Happen by Sue Dymoke, Myra Barrs, Andrew Lambirth and Anthony Wilson, and I noticed recently that Sue Dymoke has been pursuing further research into meaningful aspects of teaching writing. But I have only been able to follow this in retirement.
And that is what I have wanted to write recently, and now I have, prompted by a former Facebook rant, reminded about today [and the original Guardian article here], and here it finally is, still relevant:
This isn’t really a complex issue, but I will simplify it to an extreme to make the point: a good, effective, compassionate, humane, funny, informed and innately talented teacher could teach in a onesie and after the initial novelty had worn off, the students would be engaged and learning; an indifferent, charismatic-bypassed, authoritarian or weak [doesn’t matter which pole], humourless, soulless, ill-informed, and quite likely a member of Senior Management teacher in the most pristine suit and tie [the image tends to be of a male] couldn’t teach worth old dog’s poo because there is nothing/zilch/nought in the sartorial facade that can make-up for crapness, and the students – who probably don’t really know who this asshole is anyway because he/she is so consumed by nothingness – won’t be fooled for one nanosecond and will not be engaged nor learn.
See, not complex at all.
Ok, so you pressed ‘read more’ and got this far: thank you. Yes, I’m off on one, again. So you must like this. I don’t mean you have to ‘like’ this but I always like that. Now here’s the real deal – at 60 and into my 4th year out of the classroom, I do reflect back on what could have made me a better teacher, especially in those last too many years when I wasn’t what I was. And I never think about the clothes I wore! I do sometimes think I could have used less naughty language in the classroom [I see someone was recently brought before the Teaching Council – or whatever it is – for saying ‘crap’ in the classroom! Fucking hell, just the word ‘crap’!!]. I know why I did it, and sometimes I genuinely couldn’t help myself, and I think I got away with it, but I might have changed that. But not my casual attire!
This is all a false avenue diverting attention from the real issues that affect learning and I have allowed myself to be detoured. No doubt the Ofted Inspector/s who made the observations about teacher dress wore formulaic grey suits and thus encapsulate exactly what is wrong with the whole pathetic premise of their observation: as Inspectors they weren’t good enough for the classroom. And they probably wore their suits when they were those nominal teachers.
And of course this article more or less dismisses the nonsense of it all as well! I just wanted to join in the rejection.