Introduction to the BlogOctober 24, 2006
You can say [our] future is threatened by racial bigotry, or the breakdown of the family, or by national naivete toward world economic forces, or by a strange spiritual malady which has rendered us low-minded and irresponsible. And you would be right on each count – each is a contributing factor. But the major cause is ignorance. Again and again we do not see the main issues clearly enough or long enough. Again and again we do not discern which actions would truly be in our best interest. We take the wrong action or settle for wrong headed inaction. The cure for ignorance is education. But our schools, especially our inner-city schools, have broken down. This is a crisis in education.
Joe Clark (1989) talking about US schools then, in words which could apply to British schools now.
Hello and welcome to my blog.
It is intended to be an honest description of what is going on in secondary education in this country. The title of this blog indicates that I genuinely believe that education has become a battleground, or more accurately several different battlegrounds. Students who don’t want to study, managers who don’t want to manage, and even teachers who don’t want to teach are all too common obstructions for anyone that actually believes children should be learning in our schools. These everyday obstacles are combined with an entire education system that at every level doesn’t seem designed for education. For that reason it is often a fight to get to the point where the kind of teaching and learning, which would have been taken for granted less than a generation ago, can even take place.
This blog will detail both my personal experience of fighting the battle to teach and also my take on the system that has turned our schools into battlegrounds. I plan to run two different threads of writing throughout the blog. The first will detail my experiences as a secondary school teacher and will share opinions and advice related to this experience. The second will discuss and comment on bigger issues relating to education, under more general titles such as “Modern Education is Rubbish” and “A Brief History of Education” each divided into several parts.
I intend to rewrite and update the entries about the big issues (and this introduction) as I go. This is because over time I intend that they should form one single coherent viewpoint about the state of education today, and so as I develop my arguments further I may need to review what I have already written in light of further thoughts, and comments and discussion made about the content. I will bring any major redrafting to your attention when it happens.
The posts relating to personal experience I don’t intend to rewrite in any major way, although I will be grateful for any corrections to spelling and grammar. Please be aware that unlike most blogs these will not be in chronological order and wll not reflect the most recent events in my life as a teacher. They will mainly come from two different schools, the first is Woodrow Wilson School, a large city comprehensive with a very mixed intake where I taught immediately after I qualified. It went through a series of management changes and my time there was marked by infighting between Senior Management and the department I was working in, based on consistent efforts by Senior Management to blame all problems in the day to day running of the school on classroom teachers – the “culture of blame”. The second is Stafford Green School, a school with a much more challenging intake but which had strong results when I joined. Over the time I was there I saw results tumble and my department fall apart and learnt first hand how complacency over discipline could create a disaster even in a school with a long history of effectiveness,
Finally I will be encouraging debate and discussion on the issues raised in my blog as I go. As well as the “comment” facility on the blog itself, I also intend to encourage discussion on the teacher forums I post to, particularly Teaching And Education on INFET, but also Opinion and Behaviour on TES. I look forward to reading your feedback.
Clark, Joe, Laying Down the Law, 1989, Regenery Gateway
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