Review by Andrew Old

12 Feb 2016, 6:00

Andrew Old’s top blogs of the week 8 February 2016



This post is the account by a primary Senco of the large number of parents she had to speak to in a day. All of these parents raised concerns or problems that she had to deal with. She concludes: “Tomorrow is another day and I’m in class teaching – all of a sudden 28 reception children and a room full of musical instruments looks like an easy option!”

Mr Salter: Why I teach


A maths teacher in his NQT year describes the teacher whose footsteps he is following in. Mr Salter was an old school maths teacher who would expect the best effort from everyone and would let nothing slide. One wonders if such a teacher would have been tolerated for long outside the private sector. But for the author, Mr Salter was one of the greatest influences on his life, affecting his choice of degree and his choice of career.

The Wreckage


This post describes what happens at a failing school. Friends depart, despite having much still to contribute. Teachers get driven out of the profession. People find new careers. The author tells us about the fates of several of their former colleagues who left teaching. “I have a depressingly large collection of these life stories detailing a massive waste of talent, training and experience. This is what we must stop if the supply of teachers is to be sustainable; increases in recruitment just means more turnover.”

My political dilemma


An anonymous teacher who plans to vote at the next general election on the basis of the parties’ education policies explains why they are going to have a difficult choice. The Tories have the advantage on curriculum and pedagogy, challenging many of the fads of the previous decade. In particular, controlled assessments won’t be missed. However, the Tories are not to be trusted on teachers’ working conditions, or on introducing targets and management systems.

We are all doomed


In honour of Dad’s Army’s Private Frazer, English teacher Chris Curtis discusses whether we teachers are, as some would have it, doomed. He accepts there are difficulties to be faced due to a new curriculum, new methods of accountability and a lack of money. However, he claims to be happy and celebrates a number of improvements, such as the more challenging texts he is now teaching and the abolition of lesson grades.

Improve behaviour to improve teachers


This post explains what makes a good discipline system. It is one that frees teachers rather than keeps them busy. If teachers spend their time organising detentions, or have to work out how to cope with kids who won’t cooperate, or tolerate poor behaviour because they won’t be supported if they confront it, then it is their teaching which suffers. Better instead to have clear rules, centrally administered detentions and support for teachers when they use the discipline system.

Like a broken record


Sarah Bedwell describes the phrases she uses with students when dealing with their behaviour, particularly when that behaviour takes the form of students’ poor manners. These include ways to respond to students shouting “WHA…?” when they don’t hear what was said and the question to ask of a student who denies that they did anything wrong.

Hannah Arendt: The Crisis in Education

This blogger seems to have saved themselves the effort of writing a blogpost this week, by cutting and pasting an entire essay by the philosopher Hannah Arendt into their blog. Cheeky, but that makes it the best blogpost about education you will ever read. Published in 1954, The Crisis in Education explains the philosophical basis of almost every argument in education, and not just the arguments from before it was published, but also almost every argument since. A classic of philosophy.

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