Passing the buck

Even though we repeatedly disagree how to do it best, all educators are really passionate about getting kids to have more “Aha!” moments. Everyone has their own ways of doing it, and their own ideas on how to make things better. Trouble is, it’s hard not to feel pretty jaded by constant criticism. The thing is, where is that criticism coming from exactly?

We all know the media only likes to pick up on negatives. Witness the recent painting of an improvement in reading standards as another failure, or the pillorying of Oxbridge when in fact they’re taking a huge proportion of the tiny number of deprived kids getting 3 or more grade A’s.

Then there’s the school inspectors, who managed to reduce good schools to merely satisfactory at the stroke of a pen. There’s the government who selectively interpreted PISA results to claim the UK’s education system is slipping despite the fact that the 2000 data was not applicable due to sample size.

However, every sector and industry has negatives thrown at it from all sides, but not everyone deals with it the same way. Perhaps we should look at ourselves, and the way we use language in the staffroom?

If we stopped undermining that member of school management who is on our backs about results and went and talked through our concerns maybe we’d find engagement worked better than anger? Perhaps the next time someone else gets good results we might hesitate before alleging “teaching to the test”, and go and find out what they did so well? Maybe before we complain to our colleagues that the head of department has lousy schemes of work we could start writing one ourselves? What if the latest government scheme actually has some merit, and is not just designed to make our lives harder?

Perhaps the roots of all evil aren’t academic tracking assessments and school data, maybe we could actually learn something from them as well as contribute new and improved ways of measuring success? As Richard Branson points out so well in his Entrepreneur article, maybe its time we stopped complaining about them and started thinking about how to help us?

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