Thursday, December 13, 2007

Waiting For The Millennium

In a Guardian comment thread, Children's Laureate and SWP activist Michael Rosen points to some exceptional people and says "all schools can be like that !" Note that Thatcher is still to blame. It's like 30s educationalists blaming the First World War for indiscipline.

"Last week I visited a comp in Nuneaton that sits between two selective schools that attract the 'better' kids. It's in an area decimated by Madame Thatcher closing the mines. There was every chance for this comp to slide into depression, anarchy, violence, arson and the rest. I've seen those schools too. Instead, what I found was utterly remarkable and over and over again the head and my friend one of the deputy heads made it clear both in what they said to me and in how they related to the students that the school had put this business of good human relationships at the core of the school. The problem with me writing this here, is that it sounds do-goody and meaningless. You had to see it to see how it operates, how teachers talked to students, how students talked to teachers. I read to two hundred and fifty year 8s for an hour of talking of reading, questions and there wasn't a single incident of ****ing about, fighting, heckling. Not one. And I promise you that this hasn't been achieved through punishment, control and lock-ups. Incidentally I saw about eighty kids across the ages rehearsing 'High School Musical' too!"

Laban just had to reply :

Michael Rosen - the trouble is that as your 'child-centred' ideology as gained more and more influence in the education system over the last 40 years, so have academic and discipline standards plummeted. I don't deny that some exceptional individuals - like the people in Nuneaton - can do wonders, but the point is that they are exceptional.

"at the heart of the issue is personal relationships"

Couldn't agree more - but how many people who work for a living are capable of establishing such relationships as a profession ? I'd posit that as society fragments there will be

a) fewer such people
b) they might not all want to teach

Wouldn't it be better to worry about the primary relationship that's an instrument of socialisation - that of parent and child ?

Your stuff about the school reminds me of the 1,372 Guardian articles I've seen about the wonderful adventure playground/drama co-op/dance group/music studio/sports club, run by some charismatic individual, which is doing such a wonderful job at turning inna city kids away from crime and the gang culture.

"Why can't we replicate this throughout the country ?" cries the Guardian.

Because secular saints don't grow on trees, and aren't available in job lots of 10,000 to parachute into schools. Your solutions are wholly unrealistic because of the saint shortage. Meanwhile thousands of kids have their life-chances destroyed while you wait for their arrival. Why do you cling to your illusions so ?

Is it all part of some SWP master-plan - "the worse, the better" ? I do hope not.

(Isn't it great having yet ANOTHER public schoolboy in charge of State education, btw ? I bet his Tory and Lib Dem oppos are publicans too. Makes you proud to live in such a classless society).