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Welcome (or welcome back) to the Battleground

January 3, 2008

Hello. This is the new location for the Scenes From The Battleground blog. Due to the demise of the INFET website I have had to find a new home here on edublogs.org

I am currently busy publicising this new location and sorting out the entries, some have suffered a little in the transfer (for instance some have changed my name to “James”) particularly where they were linked to other pages on INFET, but I will hope to get back to regular blogging ASAP. A small number of the older posts haven’t been transferred and I will be looking to revise and represent them. Apologies to anybody who had posted a comment that has now been lost due to the loss of INFET.

If you are new to this blog then allow me to reintroduce it:

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 include different types of writing throughout the blog. As well as those detailing my experiences as a secondary school teacher and will share opinions and advice related to this experience, other entries will discuss and comment on bigger issues relating to education, often in several parts under more general titles such as “Bad Ideas for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis” and “The Laws Of Behaviour Management”.

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 Grove 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 Opinion and Behaviour on TES. I look forward to reading your feedback.

Thank you.

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11 comments

  1. Welcome back mate, sorely missed.

    Keep posting, and remember don’t feed the trolls.


  2. Cheers,

    Great to be back. Now I’ve just got to find out a way of letting everyone know I’m here.

    (Except for the trolls, of course.)


  3. Thank you for visiting my blog. I’ve updated your blog web address in my blogroll. I totally share your experience you refer to with these words:
    “…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… ”

    Happy new Year!


  4. Andrew,

    Thank you for updating us on your whereabouts.

    I am interested to know how you like the switch to Edublogs and whether or not you found the transfer agreeable. I take it you were able to move all of your blog posts with you. Was that automated, or did you have to do it manually?


  5. The world has, i feel gone mad. Oldandrew please buy a TES and read through it.

    Biggest curriculum change for 20 years … (page 4), new KS3 curriculum, diploma, new GCSE, primary strategy …

    A League table for Gifted and talented.

    The government caught in a cleft stick between admitting SAT tests don’t work, to wanting to appear tough on teachers and publishing league tables. (page 9)

    A two page article extolling Individual tuition(page 14 and 15), which begs the question where is this going to take place in schools? What rooms? Who will teach it? Do the children want it? All these factors gleefully ignored in the article.

    Pupils body heat to warm new buildings (what about using teachers as they try to implement all the above? “Run faster you useless feckers, i demand a 15% increase in heat related activity by the end of the new term”) (page 6)

    Using jeremy Clarkson to inspire pupils (page 20)

    And pupil being OFSTED inspectors watching teachers (page 3)

    Ted Wragg used to be asked where he got his ideas from, he answered he just read the TES every day. I wonder what he’d have done with the above?

    Its gone beyond irony.


  6. “I am interested to know how you like the switch to Edublogs and whether or not you found the transfer agreeable. I take it you were able to move all of your blog posts with you. Was that automated, or did you have to do it manually?”

    At the risk of sounding like an advert, the main reason I moved here was because it is very convenient for importing blog entries. There were some problems with importing (if you look at some of the older entries they need tidying up) but these resulted from the fact that my old host INFET vanished without trace so I had to import everything from another site. As a result the entries on here are something like third-hand copies of the originals.


  7. Thank you for letting me have your new url. I’ve added you to my Google reader.

    Yours is probably the most realistic look into our educational system I’ve seen on the ‘net. Except mine, of course. :) I hope you don’t get the idealistic abuse we who know what it’s really like so often receive.


  8. Cheers, (Although I thought we were in different, but strangely similar, educational systems).

    I get plenty of abuse from the “glass is half full” tendency. (Apparently the fact that I write about badly behaved kids mean I must be a bad teacher and hate all children.) But I don’t call them “idealistic”. It’s idealistic to fight to improve a bad system not to pretend it’s fine as it is.


  9. Thanks for the comment and the redirect; this is a sadly entertaining blog for me to read, as I graduated from a secondary school in the USA about four years ago that would fit some of your characterizations here. Oy.

    :) – Muse in Vivo


  10. Thank God. Somewhere they tells it just as it is! Can we include primary in this site too though, as the same issues seem to apply?


  11. I agree with many of your strictures on the educational system:

    “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…”

    I shall be reading through your blog to check out your recommendations/prescriptions for these dire straits we’re in. At the Guardian community site, I’ve indicated some practical means that I believe (I’m pretty certain, actually) could lead us out of these dire straits: I paste some of this information below, for your – and your readers’ – interest:

    +++
    For sure an education debate is needed (even more needed in India where I am located than in the UK!) Here in India, the mindless regurgitation for higher marks in exams and all the other ills on which Mr Seldon commented are much more pronounced than they are in the UK.

    But there is an underlying problem, which is that the way we debate is extremely ineffective indeed (considerably more ineffective in India than in the UK, where debate is generally somewhat more civilized). Most debates in the ‘conventional mode’ consist of just running ’round and ’round the mulberry bush – they are by and large quite fruitless, with each contributor to a debate (contestant in the argument) merely laboring his/her points again and again to little effect on the opinions and ideas of the others involved.

    I seek to bring to the attention of all interested in enhancing the fruitfulness of our debates on important issues like education the seminal contributions of the late John N. Warfield to systems science, which significantly enable fruitful action from informed debate. More information about Warfield’s work is available at http://www.jnwarfield.com and at the ‘John N. Warfield Collection’ held at the library of George Mason University – check out http://digilib.gmu.edu:8080/xmlui/handle/1920/3059 .

    Based on Warfield’s developments, there has developed a uniquely powerful aid to problem solving and decision making which I call the ‘One Page Management System’ (OPMS). The OPMS first enables participants in a debate to choose some ‘Mission’ (say, “To develop an effective educational system geared to the real needs of the 21st century “). It then asks participants a series of trigger questions about the Mission, and participants are enabled to record their ideas about the issue under discussion – the first trigger question being, “What, in your opinion, are the THINGS TO DO to accomplish the Mission?”. These ideas are the ‘elements’ of the system desired to be created. The OPMS then enables participants to develop models showing how, for example how the various THINGS TO DO “CONTRIBUTE TO” each other and to the Mission (using powerful but simple modeling tools created by Warfield).

    These models develop into:

    a) an effective Action Plan to accomplish the Mission (including practical means to overcome barriers and difficulties that may be confronted;

    b) simple systems and subsystems needed to enable effective action in all dimensions of the issue at hand.

    I’d request participants in this proposed debate usefully initiated by Mr Seldon to consider using these powerful tools to enhance effective action to develop from their good ideas on education – and the editors at the Guardian to see how they could provide this community the practical means to enable such informed and effective debate on this critically important issue. I’d be most happy to provide all needed background information to anyone who seeks it, and I would also freely provide some useful software that enables the needed modeling to be done easily.

    GSC
    +++

    I shall be delighted to receive your reactions.
    Best wishes
    GSC



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