communication, decision, education, holistic education, management, managerialism, money, organic education, structural time, teaching craft, values
As an individual, and not overly-excitable, teacher I have been growingly resentful of, and frustrated with, and exhausted by, the management of education on a quasi-business level. I am moved with concern for the whole school when decisions are made on purely structural, financial criteria at the expense of educational criteria. I am worried that individuals within the school (both pupils and teachers) are seen as secondary concerns with management decisions, not as those who are the beneficiaries of those decisions.
I would like to hear much discussion about why we teach, the value of the subjects we teach, what we would like our pupils to end up with having graduated through our institution, what we consider to be ‘an educated pupil’, how we can best educate such a wide range of ability, effectively, on whether a teacher is an artist or an operative, is a crammed curriculum the proper way to culture a pupil, what are the values of the school and how do we actually communicate them to the pupils etc?
I personally tussle with the way we currently educate our children; I have problems with much of the affective syllabus we deliver. Therefore I would welcome a holistic and natural overhauling of what we teach and how we deliver it. But I am unshakeable in the conviction that education is possibly the most important activity that one human being can do with another.
There are only some jobs done in teaching which could be handed over without increasing the need for administrative communication and liaison. They usually don’t ‘stand alone’ but are part of the business of teaching children. If you extract an aspect from a teacher’s whole job and call it ‘administrative’ and thereby give it to somebody else, you simply create yet another route of liaison and communication and extend the administrative nature of the task across two people. It makes it worse. You need to recognise that the job of teaching has grown plural, but still remains a whole job – a holistic job. If you try to split the job up into aspects you simply end up making the job even more – and unnecessarily – complicated. To enable the job of teaching to happen you need to provide the structural time for the teacher to do the whole job. Money would be better spent on increasing time for teachers to co-ordinate the tasks themselves as part of their teaching.
A teacher – of whatever level or duty – hasn’t the time to do their job properly because they have a full timetable to teach. The ancillary tasks I input in my ‘own’ time: after school hours and at home. Because these ancillary tasks – nevertheless essential to my teaching – occur in time which is in conflict with my family and personal time, they are variably performed well or badly (or not at all). However they are essential to my teaching and therefore my lessons are consequently taught well, badly or not at all.nbsp; The performance is haphazard and therefore the learning of my classes is haphazard. The stress I experience in my job is that engendered not only from having too much to do (in order to do it well) but also in knowing that I could have done it well if I had had enough time/energy for it. I knowingly run substandard lessons because I haven’t the structural resources to do otherwise.
This leaves little structural time for teachers to prepare/feedback on teaching or perform pastoral support.nbsp; If you increased teaching/pastoral-support teachers you would be spreading tasks which are part of a holistic activity across more than one teacher and learning experience. The opportunities for that holistic learning experience to fail would thereby increase. If you reduce the teacher’s timetable, that teacher could do her teaching and pastoral duties herself.
The key to establishing a ‘community’ style of organisation in the school (rather than the present ‘boxed’ one) is to find the mechanism which bridges the gap between teacher aspirations, expertise and experience and the management structure which allows it to work. As has grown in recent decades, an overly-weighted managerial system seeks to regulate human communication (in this case teaching) within a structure which cannot allow for individualism, spontaneity – the humanity inherent within communication/teaching. To weigh it the other way – towards establishing a community of educative, human communication – would need the re-empowering of the teacher with trust in the care and instinct which made them take up the profession of teaching in the first place. There need to be managerial mechanisms which value those instincts rather than just make them accountable. A new structure of management and implementation must encompass both teachers’ frustrations and their hopes. If the structure of a school fails to meet teachers’ frustrations it will fail because teachers will retreat to their own efforts and not share in the responsibility; if it fails to meet teachers’ hopes they will start to become frustrated. A new structure is going to have to be quantumly different – in scope, in value and in trust – from any other business-management scheme which has existed in the last 15 years (since, say 1988) in order to inspire the confidence of a staff.
You do not need to teach teachers how to teach, you need to allow them to teach. The management of teaching needs to be supportive before it is either organising or assessing. It needs to treat them like performers rather than operatives. Change in teaching does not need to come from the bottom up (teachers have done enough of that for the past 15 years), but from the top down. There is a need for change of the contextual structure in which teachers work. There is a need of change in the way management views, values and manages its resource: to view it not as a manufacturing tool which is set to optimum productivity but as a human service which needs a supportive culture in order to thrive.
communication wormhole: Woodbrooke labyrinth / affirmations
education wormhole: Now, let’s think this through, shall we? The clunkish philosophy driving today’s education.
management wormhole: management and managerialism
managerialism worhole: inverse superhero
money wormhole: dropped ’till you’ve shopped
teaching craft wormhole: teaching performance
values wormhole: where is there a Middle Way when you want one … / … / … oh!?
I always enjoy reading your posts about the State of The Educational System … very thought provoking and interesting.
m lewis redford said:
thank you, John; it’s not all belly-aching and blather – there are some constructive articles coming up too
I hope school is going well for you