For much of my 25-year career, teachers have enjoyed the upper hand. Enough measures were in place to ensure they would be successful in any dispute with child or parent. The comparatively recent introduction of education as a quality-controlled service, with parents the customer, has changed this dramatically.
Teachers' powers of control are now very limited. In view of this, the parameters for teaching styles have been greatly reduced. There is now only one way to teach and that is through building up a friendly, caring partnership between class and teacher. This may involve a great deal of hard work and patience, but once achieved the job of teaching becomes far less stressful as corporate responsibility towards learning develops in the classroom.
Criticism of young people and their attitudes and behaviour seem to dominate discussions on education these days. Personally, I find so much good in the majority of young people that I believe this argument is flawed. What has changed is the emphasis from the power of the teacher to the power of the parent and, ultimately, the child. This does not mean the beginning of anarchy in our classrooms, more a call for a re-alignment of teaching skills. Teachers who are able to do this can still enjoy a rewarding and satisfying profession; those who refuse to relinquish the barriers between pupil and teacher, often constructed through the "fear factor", are in for an unhappy time.
Steve Devrell teaches in Solihull