Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The London riots August 2011

For the first time on blogger I feel there is something I could talk about with experience.  I could shed some light on the situation; if I hadn't been silenced on certain situations already.

I used to work as a supply teacher in schools in South London; some of the areas where the riots have taken place.  I travelled around a wide variety of schools and got to see the education system from the inside.  I wasn't allowed to use my style of teaching so I chose not to get a full time job - instead we were expected to teach from the dull curriculum that allowed no room for creativity or innovative teaching.  In supply teaching you had more free reign and the job description allowed you to throw the book out of the window if the teacher had left either a dud lesson or as more often than not - no lesson at all.  This is the reason why some supply teachers get a bad press.

Anyway back to the riots - after some of the things I experienced I could explain why the riots have probably happened but as I was both silenced and asked to leave certain schools I realise I'm not gonna be the one to spill the beans.

I would say in defence to people blaming teachers for the riots - some schools don't have science or maths teachers.  Teaching pay just doesn't attract good teachers - people with good degrees tend to go into well paid careers and who can blame them.  If the education system is to survive the salaries need to improve to attract good teachers.  I did meet some excellent teachers, (I wondered why they hadn't chose a better career to be honest),  but these were far and few between.  A lot of the teachers didn't really understand street kids as they'd gone straight into teaching from living in some leafy suberb somewhere.  I also feel teaching shakespeare to children is a bit out of touch and there seems no point in teaching r.e.  Some of the children had fantastic talent as rap singers, graffiti artists and atheletes but this was being lost in the banalness of academia.  The only problem would be any innovative changes made to the curriculum would be swamped down with the walls of academia.

The most effective school I ever worked at had a councillor running a lesson - this helped staff understand what the childrens lives were like, it helped students understand each others' differences etc.- it was actually working.  This was in a heroin ridden area - one of the worst areas of south london.  The school was falling apart but the pupils had a future.  Shouldn't that be the point of education?

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