Monday, 11 August 2014

To lose ONE teacher is an anecdote, but...

How many anecdotes add up to a trend? This article has added to the feelings of... despair [no, that's not an exaggeration] that I voiced here.
<autobiographical_note theme="reformation" date_range="1965-6">
My third-year history master was an old priest, semi-affectionately known as 'Gob' for reasons best known to his Maker (presumably not omniscient in matters of orthodontics). Officially he was Father Brendan.

He comes to mind in this context because of his insistence on saying 'the So-Called Reformation', because – he said – the word reformation meant 'reformation for the better', and anything that led to the dissolution of the monasteries could only be called 'The Reformation' if prefixed by 'So-Called' in as sarcastic a tone as possible.

I wonder what he would have made of Michael Gove's So-Called Reforms.

This article reports the frustration of an 'outstanding' teacher:
According to all the different criteria against which I have been judged, despite the constant shifting of goalposts, I have been outstanding. I worked hard; I delivered engaging yet academically challenging lessons – despite us all being told that these two concepts were mutually exclusive; I assessed pupils in rigorous detail against ever-changing marking schemes; I completed fatuous administrative tasks within all deadlines. I was at the top of my game....

...I see children as individuals; today's ministers see them as a mass that must be trained.

This became particularly visible in Michael Gove's reforms to the English Literature curriculum, which come into effect next month even though he is now out of the picture. Gove was unable to relate to anyone or any belief system outside of his very narrow range of experience, and yet, due to his changes, all young people in Britain (regardless of gender, ethnicity, class, or individuality) are now expected to relate to the white, middle-aged, upper-middle class values which he decided were the right values....

This intellectual snobbery would have made my job not only impossible, but also soul destroying. I cannot stand at the front of a classroom and make children chant the works of Keats – instilling in them the belief that the only voices worth hearing in our society are those of a dead, white, English, male establishment figure.
I seem to be quoting most of the article. You might as well read it in situ. But I'll leave you with her closing words:
We now have a generation of pupils who have been trained that their individual opinions and skills invalid, that reading is only worthwhile if the text was written by a white, British man; we have a generation of disaffected teachers, who are woeful1 about the notion of change (even if it's sometimes for the better); and a generation of school leaders that has been told that managing teachers must involve distrusting them. Politicians may be transient, but attitudes are not. The rot has set in, its effects will be felt for years.
Basically 'We're doomed'.


Another Guardian article worth reading in this context is this – in which a retired (but only 50 year-old) soldier dismisses full-time teaching as  'too stressful' for an ex-army man.
NB Dodgy PS – see PPS (below)

Update 2014.08.11.14:20 – Added this note
1 This use of woeful to mean full of woe is woefully common. A similar thing is happening to hateful (which, when I was lad, meant likely to occasion hatred [as opposed to feeling hatred]). Ah well...

Update 2014.08.12.09:40 – Added this PPS


My PS was misleading  in a number of respects – the Guardian page was taking ages to load, and I decided to rely on a faulty memory. The ex-service man (not army, I think) was 'in his fifties'. And he didn't 'dismiss teaching as too stressful' (he was a teacher). Ex-colleagues had dismissed it.

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 45,000 views  and well over 6,000 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with nearly 2,300 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

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