Teachers know best. Show the world it's true

11th April 2014 at 01:00

There is a very good chance that you might not agree with Daisy Christodoulou's analysis of critical thinking in this week's cover story. You might say she is overly traditional. You might say she is overly wedded to subjects. You might say she is overly pessimistic about the possibility of teaching skills as discrete subjects.

And you might be right.

Similarly, you might not have agreed with Alistair McConville in last week's Professional pages when he argued that students should be involved in the process of recruiting school staff.

What about John Blake's suggestion in these pages last November that we currently teach an imaginary history of the First World War rather than the reality? Did it enrage you?

Or, more recently, did Tom Bennett's impassioned case for the study of religion to be widespread in schools send you round the twist?

What do all these articles have in common? Very little, except that they are all by teachers (or, in Daisy's case, until very recently a teacher) and about education. They are clever, informed, thoughtful pieces penned from a position of knowledge about the act of teaching.

It is not important that you agree with Daisy, Tom or John. What matters is that the writers are real-life classroom practitioners with strong, academic ideas about their profession.

Contrast these articles with the so-called education experts of Westminster and the mainstream media.

As a journalist, of course, I believe journalists and politicians have a democratic right to opine on anything in the public sphere, as long as they are informed. But what we most certainly don't want is for this debate to be dominated, as it is and has been for so long, by a media and political chatterati with no knowledge of what is actually happening in schools.

Take a cursory glance at Hansard or at the running order of a national newspaper and you will find any number of opinions damning schools - usually, these days, for failing to educate our young people to standards being achieved in an imaginary past or in the deeply flawed systems found in South East Asia.

Talk to teachers and you will find a different story. Yes, they are tired. Yes, they are overworked. Yes, they are annoyed with the government. But they will also tell you that most schools are better than they used to be, that this generation of teachers is better than any that has gone before and that the children, well, they're a delight.

Indeed, the reason why results nearly always get better is certainly not all down to grade inflation.

But to get this positive message heard - to make people understand the true story of what is happening in our classrooms - teachers need to find their voices on a range of professional issues found in schools and classrooms, not just pay and conditions.

Teaching needs Tom. It needs Daisy. It needs Alistair. It needs you. Tell us what you think about education. Lead the debate locally. Get your union to talk about pedagogy, classroom management and subject knowledge.

The profession should act as a profession. Do so, and the rest of the world might just listen too.



Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today