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Introduction to the Blog

October 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.

References:

Clark, Joe, Laying Down the Law, 1989, Regenery Gateway

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6 comments

  1. Hi there Blogger! Can’t you have a name BTW….

    I look forward to following your blog, and hopefully be a regular commenter, in a constructive sort of way. :-)


  2. I went to an interview on Thursday for a job as a technician – in the school I walked out of as a teacher, incidentally, so my hopes were not high. The bloke who interviewed me (appallingly) seemed very anxious to know why I’d left teaching, and my one-sentence pat reply did not satisfy. If only I’d had this page to hand.


  3. The corridore of death sounded sooo familiar.
    I did the first 1/2 term of this year in a similar room- on the other side was the Lab techs rather than a fire door. But the rest!!!!
    The disciplin was a bit of an ‘issue’ routinly kids would storm out of a lesson on either end and drift along the corridore kicking the walls & door in passing. Occasionally the massed truants would have a ‘rumble’- i.e. put their hoodies up and run around the school causing the maximum disruption.

    The second 1/2 term there was worse! I didn’y have a regular class room and some days could teach all 5 lessons in different rooms- not always in dept either!

    Co-incidentally they have trouble recruiting too.


  4. Aren’t you worried about getting caught? I mean, aren’t you worried that the people above you will find out about your blog? Wow. You’re brave. I like that. How many years have you been teaching? And what do you teach? And how old are you? Or is that too many questions?


  5. I take a few steps to protect myself.

    I change the name of everything and everyone. I will wait before posting about events, even now I have entries written over a year ago that I am saving until more time has passed. I have changed schools often enough to have some safety (including a couple of switches of Local Authority). Oh, and I don’t answer questions like the ones above.

    I’m relatively safe regarding the blog because it is not that widely read (nobody has ever linked it with me yet). Some of my other projects are potentially more likely to get me identified. Even if I were to be identified I could only be sanctioned if the schools involved were willing to identify themselves and be publicised in the process. Hopefully, none of them are that desperate.

    Also I’m very good at my job, which is in a shortage subject, which I can teach to A-level and beyond, and I am willing to live on MPS if I need to, so it would be hard to blacklist me.

    Failing that I’ve got a friend teaching in an English Language School in Thailand who often encourages me to join him, so I guess that would be another “out” if I became unemployable over here.

    So I think I’m safe. I might find out for certain in the next year or so, as I do more to promote my writing.


  6. […] marks 8 years since my blogging career began. A year ago I attempted to sum up the first seven years of blogging, but it feels a lot like there […]



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