Hairdressing? Oh, quelle horreur!

26th January 2007 at 00:00
I am not a school teacher. I do, however, teach in a university, and some of my closest friends are school teachers (this sounds like an embarrassing admission). They never seem particularly happy with their jobs, however, and at least two of them are thinking about leaving the profession.

Thankfully, and perhaps unfortunately for those teacher unions who are incapable of wittering on about anything else, the reason they are thinking about leaving is not "pupil behaviour", but because their schools appear to be obsessed with just about everything other than the subjects they teach.

One of them was recently told that teachers are not teachers of subjects but of "the whole child", and then was told that anyone who still thought in terms of "their subject" should look for another career. My friend is currently doing just that.

Worse was a tale where the very idea of "school subjects" appears to have been binned. Ironically, this has emerged under a scheme of "choice"

similar to the plans outlined in A Curriculum for Excellence. You will probably all know about this, but it came as a shock to me that the "excellent" change to the curriculum is that children can now choose courses like hairdressing at the local college instead of school subjects like French. Excellent?

The result has been that, in this case, 30 girls who are capable of getting a French or history qualification, have opted for hairdressing, in part because they enjoy the added independence this gives them. However, as the teacher at this school in Lanarkshire noted, whose mother incidentally is a hairdresser: "These kids have 40 years to learn a trade and work: they only have a few years when they can gain the full benefits of a rounded school education."

His disdain, which I can appreciate, is for the middle class teachers and managers of schools, whom he sees applauding this "child-centred choice", a choice none of these teachers would allow their own children to make and a choice that reflects the lowered horizons we appear to have for working class kids today, despite their potential.

If any of the education bureaucrats and managers can justify this loss of belief in the benefits of school subjects and a knowledge-based education, please let me know. And while you're at it, could they let me know at which college their child is doing hairdressing.

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