Monday, March 28, 2011

Watch the blackboard while I go through it.

A few months ago I attended an event at my former school. I had a very nice time with old friends, and was moved to write a little treatise about education for my loyal readers here (aMToNW). Like most of my homework, I have still not finished it, and will probably end up with an E. In fact, until tonight I have not started it. Might have started once and discarded it. The dog might have eaten it. Who knows?

Anyway, when I turned on the electric radio this afternoon, the idiot Gove was on - for a very long time indeed. I do not understand why the BBC (for it was they) believed that anyone apart from Mr Gove and his family had any interest whatsoever in what Mr Gove had to say. I doubt whether his family find him interesting, in fact, but I hope that in the interests of humanity that someone is fond of him, even if he is an unlikely recipient of love.

One of the real reasons that I did not finish the essay alluded to above was the fear that I could not summarise my feelings in what is acceptable in a blog. I don’t like reading long blogs, and expect that many of us are of the “tl;dr” persuasion.

Let me try to be precise.

Gove is an arse. He knows fuck all about education. I sometimes find myself agreeing with parts of what he says, but then realise that he must be wrong because he is an arse.

My headmaster, E. Sprope, knew lots about education. He knew (belief is not a strong enough term to describe his conviction) that if you provided young people with an environment in which they were supported and encouraged, they would succeed. In essence, human beings are fundamentally good. I tried to thank him for what he had done for me, but he countered with the view that I had done it myself. To argue with him would have been to contradict his underlying principles. The smart arse.

What else do you need? Well, young Johann wrote this nice essay the other day. Have a good read. It is very good. I was tempted to steal it and present it as my own work, but you know that even if I have a quarter of  the ability to write this well, I seldom have the inclination.

To sum up, children are generally nice. If you love and respect them they will flourish, and become the sort of people we want to live among. It might be good if, during their school years, they learned a few skills to help them function in the world. Maybe stuff like being able to count, read, write, enjoy learning, present their ideas clearly, perhaps even be clever enough to expand the limits of our knowledge. Beyond that, I don’t care much. My view is that we have more than enough accountants, bankers, marketers, salesmen, entrepreneurs (some people use that word as if it is a good thing, ffs!), and Goves.

I think that was pretty much it.

*** My headmaster was not really called E. Sprope, that was his sobriquet  in our semi-underground student magazine. His name is Andrew Finch. He is by far the most intelligent person I have ever met. I hope he lives healthily and happily for at least another 90 years, and is recognised for the fine human being that he is.


Adam said...

True that we have enough bankers and such, but we will never, ever have enough people in television production. Or more specifically, we'll never have enough of the kind of people who hire people in television production

mrpeenee said...

I think what we really need are more prostitutes. Have you noticed how you can never find one when you need him?

english inukshuk said...

that John bloke wrote some very sensible things

thank you for the pointer

Richard said...

Nine out ten.

LOL @ entrepreneurs.

Dave said...

I am afraid my classical education did not extend to telling me what “tl;dr” means. Can you elucidate?

Scarlet Blue said...

Have you watched Jamie's Dream School on C4?

Scarlet Blue said...

That'll teach me to comment before clicking on relevant subject matter!
Interestingly - I only did well in classes where I had a hideous crush on my teacher.

Dave said...

I expect you know a lot about Norfolk now then, Scarlet.

Scarlet Blue said...

It's in Surrey?

Z said...

A few years ago at our local comp, we decided to do away with ability setting in English, which had been in place after Year 9. We found that the level of interest went well up in pupils of lower ability, and didn't seem to diminish among the more able ones. It helped that students didn't feel themselves to be labelled "thick" any more.

It is the headteacher that is by far the most important factor in determining the success of a school, not whether or not it's selective or its catchment area. Individual teachers stand out, of course, too, but the head sets the tone. A question I asked the (eventually successful) candidate at my last headteacher interview was, what about the intelligent but disengaged pupil? - where you can recognise the potential but he either despises school or keeps out of trouble, does the work but doesn't do what he's capable of.

Vicus Scurra said...

Adam. It is a crime. I would employ you.
Mr P. I have never had that problem, and much as I love you I am unwilling to assist in this adventure.
EI. Johann.
Richard. Your generosity is noted.
Dave. Too long - didn't read. Young people use the expression, I believe.
Scarlet. In what way was the crush "hideous"?
Z. Sadly, some people are going to be let down. We can only do our best. I think that what we are doing in our schools currently is so far from our best that it is tragic.

Z said...

I'm trying really, really hard, honestly.

Vicus Scurra said...

Hello Z. I have a sincere admiration for those people in the teaching profession who are not put off by all of the silliness and bureaucracy. I hope you continue for many years - the kids need you and people like you.

Z said...

I'm a mere governor, not a teacher. I spend a lot of time among teenagers, but only as a volunteer classroom assistant.

Scarlet Blue said...

Hideously embarrassing with hindsight.

Pamela said...

Too Long Didn't read? NHOIB. ISGOM.

(never heard of it. I should get out more)

Dave said...

I have no idea what you young people are talking about.

MJ said...

When did Peenee become the object of your affection?