It's your own time that you are wasting!

If Michael Gove was to announce an immediate 50% pay rise for all teachers you can guarantee that a sizeable section of the profession would be up-in-arms: "How DARE he dictate the pay rises for teachers?! We want 175%!"

I read with interest today the opinions of a teacher on twitter. "We taught the 12x table because 12p made a shilling. That's practical. Gove wants to teach it because we used to. That's ideology." I will return to this later.

There is a real problem emerging in the UK education system. Currently many changes are being made. I believe it's called an overhaul. It's fair to say that the changes are required because both Higher Education and Employers complain about the quality of many school leavers' skills when entering the next phase of their lives. Anyone who argue for the Status Quo as it stands at the moment needs to step away from education. Whilst there is something to be said for letting a new approach have time to become effective, there is something to be said for stopping what is clearly a system that is no longer working.

There are in my opinion many reasons why education is no longer fit-for-purpose. I do not wish to go into them here, but I would say that the ego-driven agendas of certain individuals in education are starting to have an effect on my impression of teaching. Why are some teachers (i.e. people possessing QTS) so intent on ignoring the direction of the Department for Education? How very dare they? I am a fairly decent member of society. I respect the authority that some people have by virtue of their position. I also respect people who are reasonable and decent. You know the sort: they do a good job, don't lie or cheat, have good manners and they don't take more than is due to them. If they think that the curriculum needs to change, tell me what to teach and when. But don't tell me how :)

Simple values.

Back to the problem. In education there are groups of people with their own personal and political agenda. Nothing unusual there. I've seen this in several workplaces outside of education. But I have never seen the blatant self-promotion that is dependent on putting-down a potential solution so that they can be seen as the next-best-thing. I have seen people in education who are quick to slam a worthwhile venture even when they are phenomenally less qualified than the person bringing the new approach. Teaching should not be a popularity contest with the person with the largest internet presence being the decider of policy in the UK.

Going back to the 12 times table comment. I'm a Maths teacher in a secondary school. I know that those children in education who are fluent in the times tables have a distinct advantage over those that aren't fluent. I see no reason why we can't get children to start with a basic grounding in numeracy through the use of rote-learning. The higher-order thinking can still happen, but developing a suitable canon of mathematical knowledge  must be an early goal for all pupils. In the same way I think that pupils should also learn certain texts by rote. The understanding can be refined later but the rigour associated with learning by rote is a suitable life skill. It shouldn't be the only one that is acquired though.

Much of what is proposed in the new National Curriculum will be good and suitable. No doubt there will be little agreement between all teachers. This isn't acceptable in my opinion. Equally troubling is the voicing of opinions by seemingly qualified people. The person who challenged the appropriateness of teaching the 12x tables? This is from his website:

"I teach technology journalism as a specialism at City University and have lectured Sheffield University and Cardiff University journalism students."

Suitably qualified? You decide. But don't take too long. It's your own time that you're wasting.