xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: A Tale of Two Teachers

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A Tale of Two Teachers

Whenever politicians talk about improving standards in education they generally say that teachers need to work harder or longer or should be much better qualified. The inference being that teachers generally are a shoddy lot responsible for just about every social ill. Various Federal Minister for Education have threatened strong government action unless teachers lift their game.

Since the arrival of NAPLAN in 2009, teachers have been commanded to improve literacy and numeracy levels throughout the country. This will no doubt not only reduce unemployment, but will also level out the balance of payments, reduce inflation, wipe out the trade deficit, increase the GNP, reduce taxation, cure the national health scheme, stop global warming, prevent bushfires and quite possibly even bring peace to Somalia.

Sometimes, some politicians, who have never seen the inside of classroom since leaving school, threaten that if standards don't improve then teachers should have their salaries cut or be dismissed. Now, with sagacious decisions like that from our leaders, is it any wonder that the rest of the world says that we really are The Clever Country!

The fact is that in many under achieving schools the teachers are sweating blood to improve the educational standards of their pupils. Unfortunately, they are under resourced in trying to cope with the many problems that are manifest in their classrooms, which are often a direct result of poverty, dysfunctional families and drug and alcohol abuse in the home.

Teachers need more school psychologists, more social workers, more adult support in their classrooms to assist them in educating increasing numbers of children who are suffering from what seems like an epidemic of emotional, intellectual and/or physical disabilities.

Politicians who criticise teachers for failing to improve standards are akin to army general who fail to give their troops any bullets and then blame them for losing the battle. To some, the government's criticism may seem a little harsh, but then governments have always been harsh with teachers. Two of the greatest teachers who ever lived were Jesus Christ and Socrates. Government crucified one and forced the other to commit suicide! Some would argue that little has changed in nearly 3000 years.

So, just how would Jesus and Socrates fair in today's educational climate? Thanks to The X Files, some internet bulletin boards and a couple of units in the Sociology of Education, we are now able to take a look.

Socrates accepted a teaching position at Ramshackle Community College and almost immediately fell foul of the administration. He was eventually dismissed under Section 86C of the Education Act for a poor professional attitude and a lack of teaching skills.

Part of his Adverse Report read as follows: "Socrates presents himself in a most unprofessional manner. He invariably arrives at school wrapped in an old sheet and wearing open toed leather thongs and no socks, which is quite contrary to the School Council's Dress Code. He does not seem to own a tie, or even a shirt.

Furthermore, he does not keep any data recording student performance.His lesson preparation is non existent. He does not use a Daily Work Pad and never has any work prepared for his lessons. In fact he rarely uses the classroom. He prefers to wander about in the school grounds with his students clamouring around him. He obviously has very poor knowledge of the subject matter that he is supposed to be teaching. He spends almost the entire time of each lesson asking questions of his students in the hope that their answers may enlighten him! However, their answers only add to his bewilderment, causing him to ask even more questions. Clearly no real learning is taking place and Socrates is a menace to our youth. He will be terminated."

After his dismissal, Socrates moved into marketing and the growth industry of Professional Development. He now has his own consultancy and presents seminars to New Agers entitled " Really Getting To Know Thyself Through Wisdom, Truth and Beauty " at $750 per person. No questions asked.

Jesus commenced teaching at Gonski Senior High School. On the first day Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called God's children. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see..."

At this point several students began interjecting in a disruptive and aggressive manner. "Hey, Dude, is this stuff part of our core curriculum?" asked Peter.

"Are we supposed to be summarising this for an essay?" questioned Andrew.

"Is this junk going to be our major semester assignment?" queried James.

"I want an extension. I doubt that I was here when you started this topic" demanded Thomas.

"None of this is in our set text book" grumbled Mark

"Is this rubbish remotely relevant to the real world of business and commercial accountability," sneered Judas.

The Principal of the school heard the commotion and called Jesus to his office for a Performance Management interview. He said, "None of what you are teaching is listed as a school priority. None of it is related to our School Development Plan for 2012-2016. There is no Strategic Plan for it, neither is there a budget item allocation to provide for relief teachers for staff in-servicing, audio visual aids, text books and the other resources needed to support and implement it. There are no assessment tools in place to evaluate the outcomes.

It is not included in our school's Management Information System. It does not conform to The Education Department's Mission Statement of Purpose and Ethos. It is not relevant to the Student Outcomes Statements. Furthermore it does not relate to any of the Education Department’s Key Performance Indicators. How can this school be accountable for what you are teaching when it doesn't even have a departmentally approved Performance Indicator?

The Parent Participation Committee, The P and C Association and every member of the School Council have all contacted me to complain that your teaching has strayed markedly from the set syllabus and is not within the approved curriculum guidelines. Under no circumstances can you continue to teach at this school."

Jesus wept.

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