Wednesday, 21 November 2018

"The teachers are going out on strike"

I was told yesterday and the piece in this morning's paper would seem to confirm their union is thinking of it.
If what I read is also correct then there doesn't seem to be any need to go out on strike. The children are not in danger.
Conditions have not changed for the worse either. Nor are they likely to change. 
So, why go out on strike? 
I think most parents will be puzzled by this. Some teachers will be puzzled too. 
The answer is probably fairly simple - it is because they can. The "wrong" side of politics is now in power and the union is not happy. The little things that they have been quietly agitating for have suddenly become "issues". 
Class sizes are much smaller than they were. I had nineteen children in a class of profoundly physically and mentally disabled children. Now T..., the extremely bright child across the way, will start at the local state school in a class of much the same size. His one classroom will be filled with items I and my colleagues would have happily shared between all of us.
Teaching has changed - unless you go to a much more conservative fee-paying school like Ms W does. In her school they still have some lessons where everyone faces the teacher without having to twist around in their seats. It's a rare thing.
Their NAPLAN results are good too, very good. The teachers' union would claim this is because the classes are small, the facilities are very good...and so on. I don't think it is just that - if that makes much difference at all. In fact Ms W's classes are only a little smaller - an average overall of two less perhaps.
What is different is the attitude towards work. The school expects everyone to work - and work hard. There is no expectation that anyone needs to be "first" or "top". The expectation is that you will do the best you can - all the time.
I have been in and out of Ms W's school on numerous occasions. I have also been in and out of the local state schools. There is something I have noticed. Ms W's school is much quieter. It's a working quiet, a disciplined quiet. It isn't absolute and nobody would want it to be.  In the middle and senior areas of the school they move from one place to another in an orderly but self-disciplined way. 
I have no doubt it is easier to get students to do this when most of them have been in the same school all their lives. The youngest will see what the older students are doing and come to learn what is expected of them. Still, it has to be worked at as well. The students come from a very wide variety of backgrounds and cultures.
There's a uniform of course - and high expectations of cleanliness and tidiness. There are also expectations of what teachers will wear.  There are no ragged jeans or t-shirts or flip-flops there. The girls don't call their teachers by their given names either. 
I have heard these things criticised by outsiders, as if they are somehow abnormal. Ms W and her friends and peers don't see it like that. They see it as normal...and perhaps they should.
There are problems there of course. The place isn't perfect. Ms W's form teacher  had the class read and discuss Nicola Morgan's "The Teenage Guide to Life Online"  because she is aware of what could happen. She will do the same next year too. 
But, that sort of thing is discussed - and growing up is taken seriously.  There isn't any need to go on strike in Ms W's school. The staff and students are simply expected to respect one another and expect the best.

No comments: