Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Caught in the froth of measured learning

Many teachers face an impossible set of expectations from society in their educational role. Most teachers are motivated by concern for young people and feel that the focus only on measurable assessed outcomes diminishes their role and does not meet the needs of young people. On the other hand families and society now expect education to instill values especially moral responsibility in young people. But those expectations are not taken it into account when making judgements about schools.
OFSTED the schools inspectorate in England and Wales, have a wonderful evaluation document on spiritual and moral aspects of education. It is inspiring, useful and recognises the broader reach of an holistic education. But it lies on the shelf, gathering dust and is rarely used to evaluate and recognise the softer skills of teachers. In practice it doesn't count.

 Our politicians want teachers to produce measurable results within the term of office of  a government. They seem to be satisfied with a narrow view of education that will use exam progress as a sign of success when many young people  are falling apart inside. Faced with a spectrum of social needs that inhibit learning in some young people in every class a teacher has to assume some of the responsibility of a social worker in order to motivate young people to learn. This work is done individually, vocationally and at great personal cost to teachers. Because it is not recognised and approved it may wither on the vine of the teaching career- yet it is probably the most valuable work that they do.

In dealing consistently, patiently and personally with dis-functional elements in each class at teacher models respect and moral strength not only to the challenging young people but to the whole of the class.They teach young people how to be adults in society. The assessment based curriculum has almost squeezed out this vital aspect of learning to the impoverishment of the whole school community. There is no time for deeper learning and the development of wisdom has been replaced with the froth of information and measured learning.