We are at war.
Every teacher is a soldier in their own right fighting their own personal battles on a daily basis.
– Fighting with the students. (metaphorically speaking of course)
– Fighting with marking. (all the time)
– Fighting against the incorrect perceptions of their respective subject (one which most maths teachers will understand very well).
And not to forget
– Fighting against the urge to pee at about 12pm after a long morning teaching and duty with no breaks!
Yes… These are some of the battles we fight daily but what is the war? Who is the enemy?
Not an easy question and an even harder answer. The long and short of it is the answer is you. You are my enemy and the enemy of nearly every other teacher and I am probably your enemy too.
This is not by our choice but rather as a product of our deeply flawed education system.
A system that values league tables over professionalism. A system that values grades over happiness.
A system that actively pits schools against each other in order to secure appropriate funding/ pupils.
Every school is a beacon to their own successes and nothing emphasises that more than the giant banners you will see on a certain Thursday in August.
Whilst these successes are wonderful for the students involved are we doing ourselves a disservice by fixating on them?
Someone much more famous than me probably said the way to defeat your enemy is to divide and then conquer. Numerous examples of this have been seen through the ages both in warfare and politics. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that schools are designed to be isolated pockets of limited success.
The proportional grading system we use is the pinacle of the us vs them system thrust upon us. For one of our students to succeed, they need to be better than another pupil. Sod what the pupil knows or how well they work. If they’re not in the top x percent they’re deemed as failures. Some schools have more of these ‘failures’ than others. A school with more ‘failures’ will often be judged on this fact alone irrespective of the level of deprevity in the area or even the intake of SEN etc.
It creates a system where some schools can be resistant to help others as helping another school can inadvertently harm your own students chances of exam grade successes.
Divide and conquer.
There are roughly 480,000 teachers in the UK. That’s a huge political force. By pitting them against each other in the arbitrary school league tables. Judging them, ranking them and ranking the organisations they work for through ofsted, our power of cohesion is lessened.
We are at war.
But what can we do?
1: Build your personal learning network where ever and whenever you can. Twitter, forums, subject associations, other schools in your area. Not to intentionally paraphrase ‘anonymous’ but we are legion. We are stronger together. Not just in terms of our pedagogy but also through the stories we share and the connections we make.
2: keep cosy with your unions. They have a lot of power and only by being a member can you help shape that responsibility.
3: Campaign and campaign hard for an education secretary that understands teaching. Wouldn’t it be revolutionary if the top job was given to an ex – teacher. Someone who has lived our lives, shared our pain, celebrated our successes and stood in front of a damn class for more than the time it takes to take a few promotional propaganda shots.
4: Accept the fact that teaching is a highly political career and then embrace it. Never shy away from politics. Burying your political head in the sand will only serve to devalue your opinions.
5: Be excellent to each other! We all have different viewpoint and you know what? That’s fine as long as we respect it.
It’s not all doom and gloom though… The people make the profession not the politicians and everywhere I turn I see amazing people doing amazing things for the pupils they serve. Keep it up you superstars!
P.s. (I do so love these) On rereading, this blog can sound a little anti-competition. Not my intention. Competition is fantastic but something here needs fixing…
P.p.s apologies in advance for any grammar errors etc. I’m doing this on my phone as my lappy is not available at the moment. Damn hard writing anything coherent on this thing!!