Attitudes Which Cause Dumbing DownJanuary 3, 2013
Every so often, people simply try to deny that there is a problem within our education system of low expectations. The following are examples, often from highly respected figures or able individuals, of expectations which are in my view blatantly below where we should expect them to be. Remember that all of these examples are from people who apparently had no shame about making these attitudes public and I recommend that you follow the links to look at the context.
1) Maths teacher tells a student working at A grade (before the introduction of A* grades) in maths and further maths) not to be as keen to get into Cambridge.
From the TES :
“Apart from you, Michael, who cares what you get in your A level?” I ask, firmly.
His Bambi eyes look at me in a bewildered way, as if he has just seen me kick a puppy.
“I mean, I care, of course,” I add, swiftly. “But what is better: to go to Cambridge with three As and hate it or to go to Bangor with three Cs and love it?”
2) Teacher thinks it really important to tell students, at the age of 12, not to be concerned about whether they make it to university.
From this teacher blog (okay, I admit this is a teacher in Scotland not England but plenty of teachers in England retweeted this as if it was good advice):
In August, thirty twelve year old kids will arrive in my class, embarking on their Secondary school education. Fresh from Primary school, they will no doubt be filled with a mix of nerves and expectation. So, if one of them was the twelve year-old me, what advice would I give myself? Here goes… In a couple of years, your teachers and parents will start to obsess about University. Don’t sweat it so much. It ain’t the be all and end all. You’ll go, eventuallY, if you really want to. Your friends will get caught up in that and end up in, for the most part, mundane jobs. Don’t think you are inferior if you don’t go to Uni at 17. You probably will hate it then anyway.
3) Headteacher describes the level he thinks is good enough for a grade C in English.
From a headteacher’s blog:
But I know what a C in English looks like; I know what you have to do to achieve it; …After all, to get a C you essentially only need to do be able to do three things: write using paragraphs; write using mostly accurate sentences and spelling; and be boring. If you stop being boring you move to a B or higher.
(This was part of the ongoing campaign to lower the boundaries in English GCSE which in itself is an outrageous attempt to dumb down, but I think this example particularly demonstrates the low expectations behind that campaign.)
4) Blogger (whose past and present positions include consultant, head of department and OFSTED inspector) attacks academic education.
From this blog:
[I] would therefore like to suggest that at present we simply cannot afford for so many students to pursue the luxury of an academic education that in many cases leads to nothing more than high rates of graduate unemployment. …. Your Country Needs You – not to become an academic!
5) Education website suggests Year 11s (i.e. students aged 15 or 16) revise Hitler’s rise to power using Mr Men cartoons.
From this history teaching website:
Prior to this activity, Year 11 students should have finished studying the Rise of Hitler. They should then spend classroom time discussing in pairs and groups how they could transform the narrative into a ‘Mr. Men’ story that younger students would be able to understand.
The following steps are a useful framework:
Brainstorm the key people involved (Hitler, Hindenburg, Goering, Van der Lubbe, Rohm…). Discuss their personalities / actions in relation to the topic. Bring up a picture of the Mr. Men characters on the board. Discuss which characters are the best match.
Had to add this one. Staggering.
A-level English taught by getting students to draw pictures on paper plates.
From this blog.
1- Students are asked to find descriptions of their character in their books and depict their character on the paper plate- aim for them to draw a face but sometimes a full body is more appropriate.
2- They then take 4 white stickers and on each of them, write one of their character’s key traits.
3- They then stick their white stickers on their clothes and go around the room, mingling with all the other characters and introducing themselves in character.
4- They then take a large piece of paper, stick on their paper plate and stickers and find as many quotes that relate to their character as they can, adding notes about why the quote is important.
5- The posters are displayed somewhere, in this case, the corridor. Students peruse the information and add key character notes to their record sheets.
Creative, active and fun! My kind of activity!