Stand up and not be counted

14th July 2000 at 01:00
SO Phil Silvester has joined the exodus - and who can blame him (TES, June 30).

He spent so much time dealing with the prescriptive curriculum and no doubt all the attendant paper work that he had no time to do one of the most important tasks in teaching - get to know his pupils. And, it turns out he is not alone.

Five other teachers are leaving with him.

If this were an isolated incident, it would pass almost unnoticed.

But it's not. There's the Moor Lane staff who resigned en masse, including the head, when the Office for Standards in Education gave them a damning report in the face of official encouragement from the local education authority. And of course there is the matter of the suicides of at least four teachers whose sad deaths have been linked to inspection pressure.

What is so incredible is the response - or lack of it. Teachers as a group should be registering outrage and anger at the way in which the Government is wrecking their professional and personal lives. For purely political reasons, they have turned teaching from a process of learning, enjoyment and encouraging individualism into a process of constant measuring, fear, and a prescriptive blanket approach whic guarantees disaffection.

Teachers being what they are - the most professional of creatures - make the best of whatever idiotic initiative is inflicted upon them, to make sure that the children in their charge learn in spite of, and not because of, government interference.

David Blunkett may think that measuring is the be-all and end-all of education.

OFSTED may think this too. But they are wrong. Children's learning is about learning about themselves, learning how to learn, and being fired by enthusiasm for the world.

There are many ways to this objective, but prescribing every detail of what and how they learn, and measuring them every five minutes makes no educational sense.

But until we stand up for ourselves in a constructive and assertive fashion, we will continue to be the scapegoats. As long as we allow governments to walk all over us they will continue to do so.

If we don't value ourselves enough to say what we believe and stand up for what we know is right in schools, then how can we expect others in the community to give us the respect we deserve. Part of earning respect is respecting yourself.

Mike Todd

27 Main Street

Askham Bryan, York

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