Unsolved Mysteries of TeachingMarch 11, 2007
What I want to know is:
- Why are there boys called Cain (or Kane)? I know there are fewer churchgoers these days and it would be overly optimistic to expect parents to have learnt even a basic knowledge of the Bible in school RE lessons, but surely they must know it is a by-word for “murderer”? They don’t call their daughters Jezebel (yet), so they must have some knowledge of biblical names. Actually now I think about it, I can think of one reason a parent might call their son Cain. Perhaps they had some insight into his future academic achievement and realised he wasn’t Abel.
- Why don’t SMT take things literally? If you tell them a class won’t do any work they assume that the class doesn’t do enough work. They won’t actually accept that the entire class will just sit and do nothing. If you tell them that a child is barking they assume you are saying that he is mad, not that he is literally yelping like a dog (and in some cases walking around on all fours as he does it). My friend Jack at Woodrow Wilson School had all sorts of problems with his Year 10 reports. As part of the Woodrow Wilson tradition of making things difficult, Key Stage 4 reports had to be signed by the students. He warned SMT that his class (which was one that wouldn’t do any work in the literal sense) would scribble on and destroy the reports. They told him to hand them out anyway and report any problems to them. He did so, and they were all scribbled on or destroyed. He ended up having to rewrite them all.
- Why are school desks big enough for two children to sit at? Putting two children right next to each other is just going to stop them working and encourage them to chat and copy. We know this well enough to have individual desks for exams. So who decided that copying and chatting was fine in classrooms?
- Why was PT (Physical Training) renamed as PE (Physical Education)? I can understand why those delivering the lessons might have wanted the change. No doubt there is greater status in being an “educator” or “teacher” rather than a “trainer” or “coach”. But how come nobody in charge of the curriculum said “but you aren’t educating them, you’re making them run around a field”?
- How is that students aren’t embarrassed by making particularly stupid statements? I don’t mean on academic subjects, I understand why they want to be seen as academically weak, they might get beaten up if they were known to be learning. What I don’t understand is how a child who is standing up can say “I am sitting down”, or how any child can say “I’m not talking”, or worst of all how a child told not to answer back can say “I’m not answering back”.
- What do RE teachers do?
Answers to my questions welcome.