E is for Education

I guess the source for this post was a conversation I had with my Brother-in-law John which centred around education, and in particular the TV show "Jamies Dream School"

Now I'm not a teacher but John teaches languages at my children's High School (they call him Sir at school not Uncle) I also have several other teachers in my circle of friends ranging from teaching assistants through High School headmasters to senior university lecturers. I share my friendship group not as a name dropping exercise, but because the topic of education often comes up when we meet.

I have to say having watched Jamie's show I can see the angle he is approaching from but cant help wonder if  the overall result will never be more than made for television entertainment. Lets be honest the great and the good, the rich and the famous are unlikely to dedicate 37 hours a week EVERY week to the cause of being a teacher ? ( I may be wrong ) and if they do one of the failings of the show is very obvious - knowing your stuff does not in itself make you able to teach it. Engaging kids is a profession that even training for doesn't make you perfect at, in fact it could be described as a honed vocation.

I have 3 kids all at state (free) schools and one of the things I find interesting is the opportunity to attend parents evening. I have to say I was surprised when John told me how many parents don't bother attending such evenings. Usually the non attenders are those he would most like to see and sort out "little Billies" problems and perhaps this is the first issue with education, lack of parental support ?

I am blessed with 3 very bright kids and we can generally write the script for each of them before we go to a parent teacher night, they would include. "Very bright, at or near the top of the class, if anything talks a little to much" or "Very bright at or near the top of the class could be in danger of coasting"
In fact we were once told one of our children messed about. When asked if all the child's work was done the teacher conceded, yes and additional work as well. We went home and explained the importance of not messing about to said child, but also couldn't help wondering if the teacher was providing enough stimulation and or work?

Back to Jamie the other issue is time, the logic we applied to the teacher who commented our child messed about was that they have a requirement to teach a set syllabus to a large number of kids. For every child that gets a principal, there must be at least one that doesn't. I can only imagine in a class of 30 this must be like juggling spinning plates. So I would suggest issue two would be strict and imposed syllabus requirements, closely followed by class sizes at number three ?  In the Dream school the syllabus is flexible, there is scope to teach how they want and the class sizes are small.

Well I could go on but I wont... I could get started on Tuition fees and how few hours in lectures our student friends spend for the money they pay, again I wont.. I am however interest in your opinions on Dream School or education in general ?

If you would like to read more opinions of Dream School check out the link to another blog that John sent to me Tom Bennett and yes, it is strange that Dream School is scheduled directly after Waterloo Road, the "drama" that is so true to school life ?


Nate Wilson said...

Even though I'm not yet a parent (give me a couple months), it's apparent the students who are the most trouble often have parents who don't care enough about their kids' education.

And with large classes, the brightest will always get bored. Sometimes a teacher may have additional work for those who finish early, but I remember from my own childhood I ended up drawing a lot. Except in my high school math classes... there, I programmed my graphical calculator to draw for me.

Janet said...

This was almost the topic of choice for me today. Interesting concept this Dream School is, however; I find that parental involvement, a stimulating learning environment AND self motivation are factors that could make just about ANY school a dream school. Well, almost any. Thanks for the great post!

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