Thursday, 17 March 2011

'Jamie's Dream School' (Jamie Oliver's new reality show about education)

'Jamie’s Dream School' is doing an excellent job of lifting the lid on the dire state of state ‘education’.

We get a very good insight into how much anger and aggression is always bubbling under the surface with so many teenagers within state schools and how, when that is always bubbling away, the aggression inevitably bursts out as abusive language and/or physical violence.

The nation might begin to appreciate that ‘teaching’ (so-called) is far more about ‘containment’ than ‘education’. For example, you have to plan your lessons according to what students will find do-able, thereby more likely to keep them in their seats, rather than according to what they will find challenging – which they will immediately give up on, leading to restlessness, leading to arguments, leading to fights.

Years ago, a colleague of mine was (repeatedly) driven close to, or actually to, tears because, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get them to listen and engage. I told him that he must +lower+ his expectations of students (i.e. the exact opposite of what the hypocritical education establishment say); that he must recognise his job for what it really was – an attempt to civilise the savages rather than enlighten the next generation. Being idealistic, naïve and holier-than-thou, he said he didn’t like my characterisation of students as savages. Fair enough. But then he was the one who couldn’t survive, repeatedly looking weak in front of pupils through his obvious frustration and misery; and he came close to suspension/termination through manhandling a pupil who wouldn’t ‘listen’. I, on the other hand, focused on setting tasks that were very doable and occupying rather than trying too hard to explain difficult concepts to feral creatures. The first priority in state schools has to be to +control+ pupils, not +educate+ them. Only when you have good control techniques can you hope to move on to a bit of education.

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