Good teacher

I’m finding myself half amused, half horrified by the Conservative proposals to limit teaching opportunities to those who have ‘good’ degrees. I checked the date but April 1st is still some-way off, I’m therefore assuming that they are serious!!
….. and the young Tories asked the leader, “what then is a good teacher?”
“Verily,” he replied, “consider these two applicants”
“The first comes from a secure background where their parents have been able to bestow foreign holidays on them as regular breaks from violin lessons, debating society and riding, sending them to a good school from which not much change out of £10k a year is forthcoming. Their rise to a solid university is inevitable, where helped by their investment fund they are able to study well, unhindered by financial concerns. Leaving university with a jolly good degree they decide that teaching looks like a safe option, endowing, as it does under the conservatives: much prestige, a good salary and a more than healthy pension!”
“Meanwhile the child of a one parent family from a ‘sink’ estate, inspired by a great teacher, beats the odds to make it to one of the newer universities. Under constant pressure from juggling two part time jobs and trying to study, they emerge with a degree but at a low grade. There is only one thing they want to do. Having seen what education can achieve they are passionately determined to go into teaching to inspire and create opportunity for young people who otherwise would have none!”
“And so now, can you tell me which would make the good teacher?”
“oh oh …. that’s easy,” replied the keenest of the young Tories, “It’s the second!”
And the leader gnashed his teeth loudly before making him write out party policy three hundred times on his Blackberry!

6 Replies to “Good teacher”

  1. The cynic in me wonders if this is in response to the disappearance of city banking jobs….Now those sons (predominantly) of the trust fund classes (all children of predominently tory voters) can’t be sure of a rich future in banking, the conservatives are planning to guarantee them jobs in teaching! This would have the double advantage to the tories of ousting the ‘oiks’ from the new unis, who are unlikely to ever vote tory, from their teaching positions where they might influence their pupils to believe they can do things differently……AND also guaranting the maintenance of the status quo by having teachers who have no idea what life is like in the would outside non-state education.

  2. Depends on how you define ‘good’ university & ‘good’ degree – I seem to remember getting an OK degree & that hasn’t exactly guaranteed me a job – let alone led me down the teaching path!
    I think that a degree does not necessarily make good teacher. Primarily as highly academic people don’t necessarily have some skills like adaptation, working with (young) people & sharing information with others that is necessary to be a teacher.
    Politics always funny!
    “I’ll show you politics in America,” he added. “Here it is, right here. ‘I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.’ ‘I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.’ ‘Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!’ ” Bill Hicks

  3. Teaching ability has nothing to do with academic ability both many of the fabulous youth workers/pastors and many of the shockingly awful unversity lecturers I know are testament to that!
    Teaching shouldn’t be the last resort for graduates who didn’t get a good degree and don’t know what else to do with themselves, but it shouldn’t be elitist. The drive for every teacher to have a MTL or MEd(masters in teaching and learning; masters in education (ie theory/psych)) is heading in the same direction. In my PGCE year, science had the highest level of masters level passes (the PostGradCertEd bit), because we are used to planning, undertaking and reviewing research. Art had a hopeless time! That does not make science students better teachers.
    Rant curtailed to go and eat chocolate!

  4. I get worried whenever politicians of either hue come up with their brilliant new idea on education, that usually hasn’t originated with anybody who knows something about the subject. Over the last 20 years, neither party’s tinkering has filled me with much confidence.
    But actually the elite bit didn’t worry me so much. My take on your story would be that people who have struggled against the odds to get into university are more likely – if they make it there – to get better degrees, because they are on much more of a level playing field and they are more likely to work harder. The person who has had everything handed to them on a plate is more likely to get a poor degree, because they have never had to work for anything IMHO. And I have no problem with having high academic standards for teaching, rather than let some lazy people fall into it because they can’t do anything else – or for that to be the general perception of what is happening.
    I do however have problems with the Tories ‘Teach First’ policy, which seems to be offering teaching as a kind of gap year for bright graduates, rather than gifted educators. Its rather like the Church’s attitude to youth work. In both cases, you need people who are in it for the long haul and prepared to grow and develop in the career.
    Nor do I agree that people who have succeeded in other careers are necessarily going to be better teachers. Teaching is a skill in itself. You might be brilliant at your subject but rubbish at communicating it to young people.
    IMHO there are already many excellent teachers out there. Have high standards, yes; but resourcing and supporting teachers who are already at the ‘chalk face’ will achieve more.

  5. Actually the disadvantages of background I think does now carry on to University….when privileged students have the advantage of cars,parents paying tuition fees, a significant number of parents even buy property for their son/daughter second years.Sadly I think this is a back ward step from when I attended London University in the 1980’s.University was a ticket to a level playing field,no one had cars,no one had flats bought for them,( in fact it was frowned upon in those days by most students for daddy to fix it!)I think the gap has widened and to succeed at Uni now a poorer students has to have lots of ‘paid work’. Even when the course requires a year’s unpaid placement (like my son’s) the privileged students unashamedly have the advantage because their parents will financially support them. Who says money can’t buy great advantages? Social justice is the way forward.

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