There’s a great story in the Daily Mail today about a BBC programme to be shown on tuesday evening that follows a group of Chinese teachers when they spent four weeks teaching in a Hampshire comprehensive school. Result; teenagers need more discipline. That was pretty predicable.
But, the glorious line in the Daily Mail has the following quote from one of the teachers: ‘If the British Government really cut benefits down to force people to go to work they might see things in a different way.’ A Marxist Chinese teacher telling a Right Wing Tory government to cut benefits. I am indebted to LBC Radio for bringing this to my attention. Hopefully, they will also ask Jeremy Corbyn for his reaction. Does he support this Marxist line of ‘conform or lose benefits’?
At the heart of this debate that will no doubt make for great television in the same way as ‘tough young teachers’ and the Educating Children in various parts of England series did is the question of whether respect for authority is earned or implicit in our society? The great thing about selective schools and indeed, private schools is that a lack of respect for their values gets you slung out.
Even in the 1970s you had to earn the right to teach those teenagers that didn’t want to learn. There is a previous blog post I wrote two years ago in August 2013 celebrating the Newsom Report about secondary modern schools. This was a government report published over 60 years ago that recognised the need for teachers to acquire the skills necessary to teach in a culture where individualism is more important than uniformity.
I would also be interested to see the CBI’s reaction to the programme since they seem to want both intellectual ability and the softer skills of teamwork, personal confidence, leadership and other attributes that aren’t brought out easily by rote learning in large classes.
Perhaps at the heart of this debate is the classic British desire to look for the failures in our society and celebrate defeat rather than identify where our education system is doing well and consider how that success can be replicated.
There is certainly an issue with some aspects of authority in our school system as the DfE figures released last week on exclusions demonstrate with figures for the increase in exclusion of primary school pupils. So, will the next Tory announcement be, a loss of benefits if your child mis-behaves at school? I hope not because I suspect all that will happen is that parents of some of these children won’t send their children to school and they will fall further behind and then become even more troublesome on the days that they do attend.
Personally, I think we need to revisit the curriculum for teenagers and ensure we focus behaviour management strategies in training on dealing with teenagers that find singers more interesting that statistics and tablets more fun than tables.
Finally, I wonder what the Chinese word or symbol is for dumb insolence; perhaps they don’t have one.