I read Secret Teacher this morning. It was an interesting read on how all these open letters and criticisms in education are having a negative impact upon our profession.
As one who is currently in a bit of a ‘spiral of negativity’ regarding what is happening in education I used the article to have a little reflection. I can see where the secret writer is coming from. I understand why they need to make this observation from behind the keyboard. It is rather bleak and it is rather relentless. Why can’t we just shut up and get on with it?
I wallowed in a few moments of guilt and I thought about writing something upbeat and positive as I listened to the rain drum my roof into submission…
Firstly, I think ‘where’ and ‘how’ we are moaning is important. If we are going in to our schools and trudging the corridors bemoaning the bleak educational landscape to Gothic dirges I am in utter agreement. We need to make our schools as positive as we can. I don’t see teachers bringing the atmosphere of their schools down. Every school I go in to is still a buzz of energy, celebration and deep care. Despite the tough times my school is going through it is still full of laughter and learning; schools are still vibrant places… in my experience.
Whereas, stroll down Twitter Street or take a jog through the United Nations of Facebook and you better bring the happy pills. We are angry, disappointed and ready to jump ship. At times it seems there are ‘many’ teachers all clambering over the good ship Education as it sinks in stormy waters, (what do you call a mass gathering of teachers? A Congregation of teachers, a Huddle of teachers… A Moaning of teachers?). Is this a good thing? Are our collective and individual voices being heard over the storms cries? Are we in chaos or are we actually being listened to? If we are not, then I agree with Secret Teacher… we are wasting energy when it could be better placed.
What comes across in the Secret Teacher article is how everyone believes they are doing the best for education and therefore can’t we give them some slack and just let them get on with it. If we really were all in this together, government policy would probably work and education would be better for it. Just suck it and see. I imagine the DfE et al must hate social media, loads of hack bloggers (Like me) bemoaning every little inch of their day to day work. They must feel how I feel when I am criticised from a distance and I know that all the facts are not out there. It feels unfair. I picture some poor soul in a corner of the DfE offices weeping, “I just want to help Abigail? I just want to help?” as he has his blond locks stroked lovingly… “It’s ok Giles, one day they will know how you suffered…” And, our barrage of angry tweets and ‘trying to be clever’ blogs just keep on pouring in and no one is listening to anyone.
Personally, I feel we need to keep pointing out why we think policy is not working, why many in the profession feel they are not being listened to by our government and WHY if we were listened to things would improve. I do feel though that this relentless nature of negative attack will become counter-productive if we don’t start to look for pathways out of the mire. I look towards our Unions for this. I really do. I note that the NUT are balloting for strike action over schools finance; I hear from my union the NAHT more than ever… If only the unions could do what the political parties can not… if only they could get in to a room and tackle this issue, together, head on? Then we might have some real purpose behind all these words floating upon the white noise of social media.