More Education for Dummies

I teach, after a fashion.

Actually, what I do is work as a volunteer, in a community centre, helping people to learn how to use computers.

The people I work with want to learn, but there’s no set timetable, and I work with, usually, one person at a time, and they learn at a pace that’s comfortable for them. The atmosphere is convivial, even jokey at times, and people are free to come and go as they please.

I have had some success, of which I’m quite proud, but I would not kid myself for one moment that I could do the job a teacher does.

In a school classroom, at least half the kids don’t want to be there and, whereas I can tell people “that’s OK, we’ll try again when you’re ready”, that isn’t an option when there’s a curriculum and a timetable to follow.

And I don’t work with children. Now, I wouldn’t have a problem teaching a child to, for example, read, but the same conditions as I work in now would have to obtain, with minimal pressure on both me and my pupil, but I can’t imagine keeping order in a class of around thirty or so of the blighters. Just imagining that scenario makes me shudder.

So quite why Michael Gove thinks that the only qualification necessary for teaching in schools is knowledge in the subject being taught is a mystery.

Controlling a classroom, while at the same time encouraging the children to learn, is a remarkable skill. Even if someone has a knack for it, they still have a lot to learn, and that’s without all the bureaucracy that teachers have to contend with. While in-depth knowledge of the subject is extremely useful, it’s not the most useful asset for a teacher.

So why is Gove doing this? If I were a cynic, with a deep distrust of the ConDem government, I might suspect that it’s because too few real teachers are signing up to one of his other bright ideas, academies.

Oh wait – I am cynical, especially where this loathsome government is concerned, so that’s exactly what I suspect!

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