Do educationalists hate teachers having a voice?

October 22, 2017

I’ve written before about educationalists showing a fairly hostile attitude to teacher bloggers, but I’m starting to notice educationalists dismissing what teachers have to say, or even trying to silence it, on Twitter too.

I wrote here about the intimidating behaviour a new tweeter/blogger faced from an established education writer and a PGCE tutor. After writing about that I found myself on the receiving end of threats of legal action. Yes, that’s right, somebody tried to silence a teacher for daring to suggest that they tried to silence teachers.

More recently I saw this exchange between blogger and tweeter @rufuswilliam and somebody (whose name I have redacted just in case) describing themselves as an ITT lecturer.

I consider the original comment fairly innocuous stuff, and the implied threat of asking what somebody’s employers might make of their views remarkable.

Now I have the dismissive responses to last week’s Twitter thread on behaviour that didn’t prompt exclusions. I wrote about this thread here. After seeing arguments claiming that children are permanently excluded from school unnecessarily, I asked “What is the worst behaviour you’ve encountered where the student involved was not permanently excluded?” and large numbers of teachers responded. The question was clearly about the worst cases, not a representative sample of what is normal in schools. Both in the blogpost and on Twitter I pointed this out and mentioned that I had seen nothing like the behaviour others described in my current school or the two before (although I have seen it elsewhere). Nobody named a school involved in any recent incidents, or identified a child, yet here were some of the complaints from people involved in teacher training / university education departments about the tweets and/or the blogpost summarising them:

…[Is it] an appeal to fear and besmirching the good behaviour of the 8 million kids out there in our Pri[mary]/Sec[ondary] schools?

Is this a good forum for this? I mean, I’m all for teachers sharing experiences but the limited presentation of context makes this an uncritical exercise & potentially unjust for both the teachers & students involved. What is the aim here? Surely the aim in these situations is to seek some kind of justice – and since it involves children to seek restorative justice. In serious situations this will involve the judiciary. I am very concerned that these stories are being used politically which is irresponsible…  it’s just education’s alt-right playing dog-whistle toxic culture & identity politics again.

…the believability scale should be kept LOW on that one … it’s well known that T[eacher]s & Principals inflate 2 build cases around children..

I think it’s unethical and unprofessional to be discussing personal examples of pupil behaviour online. Parents and pupils use Twitter too.

[In response to an edu-twitter troll saying “Andrew Old should NEVER have encouraged this kind of behaviour. VILE”] Absolutely agree. It seemed to almost become competitive. It struck me as being like the four Yorkshiremen sketch by Monty Python… [In response to the same troll saying “This gave teachers a very poor press”] There are a little group that constantly do this: Bennett, Old, Didau etc. I despair sometimes.

Ironically, some of these individuals complaining about confidentiality, honesty and negativity had previously had no issues with joining in with social media shamings of named schools. It appears to be only failures in progressive education policy that teachers are meant to keep silent about. But if teachers cannot discuss openly some of the worst things that they have experienced in their careers, what incentive will there ever be for anyone to do anything to prevent them happening again and again? And if teachers are being trained by people who think that assaults and rape threats are the sort of thing that the profession should just endure without public comment when nothing is done, what kind of training are new teachers getting?


  1. There’s lot of dismissiveness out there. My proposed book was rejected by its first publisher principally on the say-so of a reviewer (unnamed) who gave all impressions of being an eductional academic. It was claimed that the book was too anecdotal, insufficiently academic and insufficiently linked to government policy. It was implied that a mere classroom teacher could have nothing of interest to say. The person had not even seen the script (which I had not released), only the book proposal…

  2. It’s rather strange how the ATL can release a report claiming that 90% of their members encountered challenging behaviour such as shouting or swearing, and 43% experienced physical violence from a pupil last year–yet so far as I know, no one is threatening them on Twitter.

  3. I am often reminded of something Kenneth Williams said, though it may not be originally from him.It goes along these lines. Critics are like eunuchs they see a performance every night but cannot do it themselves. Much the same can, exactly the same can be said about education academics. I only ever met one who I could respect and he said that as he had been out of the classroom for long that he could not give any practical advice, he did know theory and explained it wel.

  4. Given the lowly status of university schools of education with their motley crew of social science professors, the constructivist nature of ITT and the vice-like grip that teachers unions apply to their ‘professional’ voice it is little wonder that they attempt to silence and intimidate those who hold traditional views on the nature & purpose of education. Of course they will ultimately fail in their aims but accrue salary, emoluments and pensions, mainly to taxpayers expense, without imminent risk of being fired or even held to account. Meanwhile the education of many children in their charge is sacrificed without a hint of concern. Pupils are not an equivalent of cosmetic company funded experiments to product development. Teachers must get a grip on their profession; there are already many others speaking for them while they remain hidden behind a social media keyboard.

  5. I waited 20 years to find out why most educational theory is based on sub Freudian psychology or the drivel from retired American journalists.
    Professors of “education” when they speak clearly tend to have more than a passing similarity with astrologers, except for being less than entertaining.

  6. […] Teaching in British schools « Do educationalists hate teachers having a voice? […]

  7. The answer is “yes” ; they want to control the message. They think if they can control it completely then everyone will think everything is great.

    It isn’t ; one of the things I liked about this blog, which I’ve read for years, is that it’s accurate honest and realistic. Which is probably why “educationalists” are annoyed by it.

    It is my experience that with a few honourable exceptions educationalists have very little useful to say about anything.

  8. […] Do educationalists hate teachers having a voice? […]

  9. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

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