What if we were to agree that all humans have value that lies way beyond their financial capacity and academic intellect? That it is obscene to reduce people to nothing more than a unit of monetary worth? That artistic, sporting and practical abilities be as valid? That the higher intelligences such as empathy, grace and kindness be seen as strengths, not weaknesses? That education is its own reward rather than merely a means to someone else’s ends?
The point of a structured period of compulsory schooling should be to facilitate the awareness and understanding of a complex world to children, not merely the ability to pass tests and march to the beat of the latest diktats of fashionistas, inept governments and corporate drummers.
What if we decided that we didn’t want to have to choose which school to send our children to? What if we didn’t feel the need to? What if we made sure there were enough state schools at every educative level, easily accessible to every child in the country? And what if each and every one of those schools were of such an excellent standard that only fools and radicals would seek to pay extra to send their children elsewhere? What if our state schools were so blooming good that every child received the highest possible standard of education and every parent and employer knew it? What if teachers were trusted and valued as highly as are the expectations placed upon them? Any worth their salt would be clamouring to work in such an amazing public sector.
And why the rush to bring our children to employable maturity if emotional intelligence cannot keep up? (Indeed, why the rush if there are insufficient jobs to even require their labour?) It hasn’t been coined as ‘childhood’ for nothing. We are adults soon enough and it lasts, hopefully, for a very long time so why are we heaping panic upon pressure upon stress on our kids? To compete in the global race to be grateful automatons? It is part of being a child that s/he should be in a hurry to grow up but it is the job of adults to temper that impatience, not to concede and actively demand they do. If we really are all living longer then let’s make it a life worth living by getting right one of the fundamental building blocks of a confident, prosperous people.
Education is supposed to facilitate self-confidence and the ability to learn; to encourage critical thinking, curiosity and a love of learning. Thus, though school cannot teach absolutely everything, if it has done its job properly, it shouldn’t need to. Education is supposed to reveal an individual’s potential. In order for this to be achieved, schooling needs to provide the opportunity, time and space for a child to discover what that might be. Teachers need the freedom and scope to assist and appropriately indulge or signpost that opportunity. The next generation are the future, the continuum of the human race. Our children are our legacy. Not in the sense of property, but as the living arrows of Society’s bow, to paraphrase Gibran. Could there really be any task more worthy or vital?
And what if we were to decide to phase out faith-based schools? What if we said that doctrinal faith should not be prescribed to children with little or no escape or counterbalance? Perhaps our society would lose an excuse for the oft-cited sense of cultural division if the doctrines of cults were retired to their temples. The point of a secularist/pluralist society is to achieve and uphold equality under the law and in a multi-faith and no-faith country like ours, that makes Faith (which is not exclusive to Orthodox Religion) a matter of personal rather than public policy. It does not negate nor deride it but recognises that not everyone has it and that no one faith is superior to another. Religion, like Politics, is a living history, based on theory and belief. In schools, shouldn’t it be reflected, explored and debated as such, under the umbrella subject of Philosophy, rather than passed off as though its teachings were fixed by empirical data or as though it were the sole route to ‘God’ and the only expression of a spiritually and consciously lived life?
In fact, what if we decided that any school, within or outside of the state system that was intentionally selective about its admissions or adherence to a compulsory, base-line national curriculum should not qualify for funds from the Public Purse? I don’t mean barring schools from adding subjects to a mandatory curriculum – I’d have loved the opportunity to learn Latin, or even circus skills, actually – I’m talking about the ridiculous notion that a minimum national curriculum is not necessary; that schools should be able to opt out of any of the recommended subjects, particularly such issues as drugs and sex and relationships. This is not acceptable. Students need to know they share a common level of knowledge and that they are not being cheated of vital information or a major life skill.
Obviously it is not the place of a free society to dictate to individual adults the manner in which they live, so long as it does not harm another. Neither, therefore, what individuals do with their income. It follows, then, that it is unwisely authoritarian to take away the freedom to choose and pay for exclusivity. But I would happily – very happily – see governmental policies that rendered it superfluous.
ROARING for Teachers on Eve of the strike
Join Teacher ROAR in sharing this message together at the same time – automatically. Thunderclap Link here.
It is planned for 9pm on 16th October, the eve of the teachers’ strike. Please add your name *now* by clicking on that link. Then it will tweet automatically from your account.
“I’m ROARing my support for teachers, striking tomorrow for a better education system! #GoveMUSTgo #teacherROARhttp://thndr.it/1gr9896”
GOVE Must Go! Please support the teacher’s strike.
Because Teachers are standing up for teachers’ rights and for education.
Here’s why everyone who cares about education and workers’ rights should support the strike. See: Reasons to support the Teachers’ Strike #TeacherROAR
Why should you support the teachers’ strike.
Please take your time to consider why teachers in England are taking industrial action on 1st October and again on 17th October. Teachers have not taken this decision lightly – morale in the profession is at an all-time low. They have witnessed a destructive onslaught and systematic demolition of the education system, breaking up of local education authorities, forced academisation, attacks on pensions, removal of national pay-scales, increased workloads, perpetual interference of examination structures and the curriculum which are detrimental to education. Teachers are speaking out against the policies from the Coalition government which have damaged their livelihoods, and the lives of the children they teach. This is a time for solidarity. Please support the strike. (Twitter hashtag is #teacherRoar)
The article reproduced below was published on “Teacher ROAR” blog, and comprehensively explains why the decision taken to strike is understandable, justifiable, and commendable) Now is not the time to attack those who are speaking out, but those in government who have caused such wilful destruction, for political and ideological purposes.
REASONS TO SUPPORT THE TEACHERS STRIKES, OCTOBER 2013
Tomorrow teachers in some regions of England will go on strike. This is the second in a series of proposed strikes by two teaching unions, the NUT and the NASUWT, who between them represent over 90% of serving teachers.
That they are striking together is significant. Historically the two unions have been rivals and relationships between them have often been fractious. What has caused them to put their decades of differences aside and work together? It can be summed up in one word:
This can’t be said often enough. Striking is a last resort. No one wants to go on strike. Teachers lose a day’s pay, and know that they will be accused of wanting the day off, of being lazy, of not caring about kids, or deliberately inconveniencing parents. Striking is something you only do when you have explored all other avenues and found them blocked off.But Gove has united teachers in a feeling that a stand has to be made and, since he won’t sit down and negotiate with the unions, we are taking strike action.So what’s it all about? Well, where do we start? First of all Gove has announced that he wants teachers to work longer, pay more and get less for their pension than they agreed when they started the job.So what, I hear you say. People are living longer, it’s a time of austerity and the country can’t afford to pay out for your “gold-plated” pensions. Them’s the breaks, right?
No. For a start our pension scheme has had £43 billion more paid into it than has ever been taken out. Let me repeat that. FORTY. THREE. BILLION. POUNDS. more has gone into our pension pot, paid for by serving teachers, than has ever been taken out by retired teachers. Our pension doesn’t need any input from the taxpayer to make it affordable for years to come, it’s fine as it is.The increased pension contributions that Gove has demanded we pay combined with the pay freeze over the past few years means that, by April next year teachers will have had a 15% pay cut in real terms since 2010. That’s a FIFTEEN PERCENT paycut. We simply can’t sustain such an attack on our wages.
And teaching is a physical job. Carrying heavy boxes of books around a school, standing all day, crouching down next to desks to offer help, standing on desks to pin up displays, intervening in physical altercations – these are all a daily part of teachers lives. Keeping 30 children focused and on task for the best part of six hours a day takes enthusiasm and energy. It’s mentally and physically demanding and while most teachers say they will struggle to make it to 65, Gove is now insisting they go on until 68. The cynical might say that, of course, he knows that’s simply impossible and means that many teachers will be forced to take early retirement, thereby losing many thousands of pounds from a pension that they have worked hard for for years, often decades.
Workload is another issue. While Gove would like to maintain that teachers waltz in at 9, leave at 3, and sun themselves on beaches for six weeks in the summer the reality is very different.Any teacher will tell you that a typical day starts nearer to seven, doesn’t finish until well after 6, that breaks during the day are non-existent and that weekends and holidays are taken up with marking and planning. And that’s for more experienced teachers. These days tales of newly qualified teachers being at school until nine or ten at night and then going in again on the weekend are not uncommon. Which is why there is such a high burnout rate in teaching. And Gove wants us to do more. While most teachers need the holidays to keep on top of their workload, remind their family and friends what they look like, and physically and mentally recuperate, Gove says we should have shorter holidays and stay in school for longer so that we can have additional meetings and supervise after-school sessions. But all of this, the pay cut, the stolen pension, the increased workload, he might have got away with all of this were it not for his devastating onslaught on education.
Amongst other things he’s· Removed the Educational Maintenance allowance that allowed poorer students to stay on into further education· Done nothing to reduce the trebling of tuition fees· Narrowed the curriculum into something one academic has called neo-Victorian· Removed the need for schools to employ qualified teachers· Stopped the schools modernisation programme and diverted the money into free schools often in places where there is no need· Destroyed university based initial teacher training so they we are now facing a significant shortage of teachers in key subjects· Created a schools places crisis· Refused to listen to the advice of the profession· Refused to implement policies based on evidence and research· Constantly denigrated teachers
It’s time to stand up for education.
It’s time to stand up for teachers.
Please support the strikes.
- NASUWT: (industrial Action)
- NUT (Why we are striking)
- New Politics: Far more than a Struggle Over Pay and Pensions: Why Teachers Strikes matter
- Think Left Academisation and the Demolition of our Education System
- Think Left: Gove’s Selective Truth
How The Gove Stole Summer
Every schoolchild in England liked summer a lot... But the Gove, who lived in Westminster, did NOT! The Gove hated summer! The whole summer season! Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason. It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think the most likely reason of all, May have been that his heart was two sizes too small. Whatever the reason, his shoes or his heart, Gove stood there in July, watching school holidays start, Staring down from his office with a sour, Govey frown, At the happy boys and girls below in the town. "They're happy and carefree!" he snarled with a sneer, "Tomorrow is summer holidays! They're practically here!" Then he growled, with his Gove fingers nervously drumming, "I MUST find some way to stop summer from coming!" For tomorrow, he knew, all the children would wake, Bright and early the next morning to a long summer break. And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That's one thing Gove hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! And he knew all the children would play and be happy. And they'd play! And be happy! Be HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! They'd play games in the garden, and eat lots of tasty snacks, Instead of doing tests, and going up chimney stacks, And THEN they'd do something he liked least of all! Every schoolchild in England, the tall and the small, Once summer vacation was fully in swing, Would play and be happy and forget who was KING! They'd play and forget HE was king! KING! KING! KING! And the more the Gove thought what summmer would bring, The more the Gove thought, "I must stop this whole thing!" "Why, I've put up with being a nobody for so long till now!" "I MUST stop this summer from coming! But HOW?" Then he got an idea! An awful idea! THE GOVE GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA! "I know just what to do!" The GOVE laughed in his throat. And he made a quick costume from parts of a goat. And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great GOVEY trick!" "With these horns and these hooves, I look just like Old Nick!" "All I need is a reason..." The Gove looked around. But, since his reason was scarce, there was none to be found. Did that stop the old Gove? No! The Gove simply said, "If I can't find a reason, I'll invent one instead!" So he called his friend, Murdoch. And they made up some shit, About selling off playing fields and being forced to permit The wholesale starvation and privatisation, Of the nation's school buildings and state education. Now I'm sorry this tale is so short and so snappy, But unlike the original, this ending won't be so happy. Because the GOVE isn't just a fictional monstrosity, He's real flesh and blood, and full of pomposity, So parents watch out! It's not just the summer vacation, The GOVE'S out to get YOU - and your children's education!
You can get Dr Seuss’s original version here: