Monday, February 12, 2018

Losing Touch

It's almost 30 years since I taught in the U.K. and I haven't much of a clue now as to the school system over there and how it functions today.  What I can say is that essentially I enjoyed my 10 years of teaching in South Yorkshire in the last century, remembering it as a time when I enjoyed a reasonable degree of autonomy as to what went on in my classroom. Having said that, I can also recall the irritation of being forced into a fair number of time-consuming pointless activities despite my relative freedom.

It was soon after I left that the system underwent dramatic changes related to central government taking a greater degree of control over pretty much every aspect of school life. At least, that's the general impression I got from a distance, and from my very, very occasional encounters with teachers from over there. Since I was teaching myself in a highly centralised system I can't say I felt any deep sympathy for folks caught up in those changes, already having wasted most of my sympathy on my poor self.

But over the last 8 or so years I've slowly formed the impression that in many ways things are now far worse for the ordinary classroom teacher in British schools than for most of us labouring at the whiteboard in this Far Place. This impression was dramatically reinforced for me today on reading an article in the online edition of The Guardian from the Secret Teacher files, not so subtly headlined, I feel stuck in a profession that's making me ill. It wasn't so much the story itself that had an impact, though the piece in itself made for sobering reading, as the narrative that emerged from my perusal of some of the 1535 comments at the bottom of the page.

How did things get so obviously crazy? It's a question worth asking of many an organisation, of course, and not just in the field of education. The funny thing is that I think I know a large part of the answer, though it would take a long time to explain this. I reckon it boils down to a single development, one that affects the modern world in all manner of ways. Once the discovery was made of the supposed need for managers and the curious science of management we were doomed ,no matter where we made our home or whatever trade we plied.

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