Monday, 5 November 2012

Empty Vessels Full of Shattered Dreams

Professional education is a minefield. How do you play it? stay quiet and get it over with quickly or throw in some off-the-wall suggestions to entertain yourself or agree wholeheartedly with everything and maybe lick a bumhole or two in the process in order to put yourself in line for a sure fire step up the pay scale next time your up for review. 

Big suggestion today That split the groups. Some stayed quiet, hoping for it to end swiftly. Some sat alert, practically jumping out of chairs in order to climb on every speaker's minor inadequacies of thought and some standing high above tugging on puppet strings attached to PGCE, NQT, veteran and course leader themself: Is it right to admit to students that you don;t know something.

My response, of course. The kids never try and learn anything half the time, so why try and lie your way around the fact you don't know something. Half of the kids have no positive role model outside of the school and the rest couldn't give a shit either way. What is the point in not admitting to a student that you don't know the answer when instead you can model to them the process of research in order to discover, together, in some sickly sweet Dead Poets Society means, the magic of actual learning!

 The teacher as a quasi-celestial being seems to have hubristic ownership of a power of pure insight. Every teacher believes that they can see through students lies like they are the windows on anti-drug school's toilets. Why does the education profession believe that it's charges do not have this sense and instead of our white-hot rage they care so little they just ignore us. They just feel jaded enough to not mention that they know their teacher is a patronising, superior arsehole who believes them to be empty vessels that will only fill themselves with White Lightning, class-A drugs and lies about friends. Even if they do not demonstrate learning of any type and would be better off eating their textbooks than reading them, they have opinions and they have them of all teachers.

I offer a challenge because today at the end of my appallingly underplanned lesson I spoke to a very disengaged student about teachers he likes and dislikes and why he holds these beliefs. There were suprising insults based primarily on those teachers expectations of him. In all likelihood this child will be in prison by the time he is twenty, as, he revealed, has been true of every male member of his family for two generations. Despite this he was genuinely hurt by some teachers, particularly one that told him he would never amount to anything. I found this quite sad today. Perhaps in the labelling him of difficult by the entire school I manged to forget the poor kid has feelings after all. Tomorrow, ask your most difficult student to tell you their thoughts on their teachers and why. Do this without repercussion and let them include yourself. I think, like my accidental stumble today, you may find it interesting. 


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