About me

First of all, thanks for visiting; I hope this blog sows the seeds of further thought and discussion. If I get too pompous, or if the language gets too convoluted and flowery, please tell me.

I am a teacher who cares deeply about the children I teach and I am a fan of traditional education and its methods. I’d like children to have choices in life and to enjoy intellectual pursuit for its own sake. I’m following these educational establishments, publications and people: WLFS, Wilshaw, Gove, Michaela Community School, Andrew Old, David Didau, Hattie, ED Hirsch, Campaign for Real Education and the Reading Reform Foundation.

Charity of choice: Shelter

16 thoughts on “About me

  1. Hi, I agree with so much of what you say here.

    I run classes in English comprehension and composition and believe nearly all our children could be level 6 type writers in Y6 if only the requisite skills were explicitly taught. Speaking to teachers in the UK many believe that writing skills should really be picked up by osmosis if a child is naturally clever enough. If a child is not deemed able enough it’s felt it’s wrong to take them beyond their set limit.

    We are setting up our own enrichment groups aiming at championing a traditional approach (think classical children’s literature read in class and worked through from start to finish for KS2). We want to teach children there’s a joy in an academic approach, cultivate a real work ethic and preserve what we feel is being lost due to a child led and progressive pedagogy.

    I’d love to hear from you.

    Violet.

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  2. What’s your twitter handle? If you don’t want to post it here then add me I am @assetteach I would love to read some of the comments too.

    I feel for you here, I really do. So you go to a progressive sixth form (or was it an all through secondary?) and you end up not being able to do things that you really wanted to. What was the idea behind dropping you from the exchange programme? What about the modules? How was that justified?

    I on the other hand went to an ‘exam factory’ apparently and had the absolute opposite experience – was able to go to a a week long study group in the Cambridgeshire countryside to ensure that I got a solid A for my Psychology A-Level, I was pushed in every subject and left with the best grades I could have got (I simple did not revise one of the units well enough to get an A in History A-Level – never made that mistake again!!!). As for Sociology – I was towering at over 90% in my tests and exams and I was pushed to read more theories and spend time on further analysis – hence my knowledge of Gramsci and the like. I came out with 2A’s and 1B. I got into the university and course I wanted and got to live in Italy for a year to boot. So the difference that high expectations make to an individuals life are clear to me. I would never have achieved as much had it not been for my teachers.

    I find your story of state school depressing as it never has to be that way. Was it obvious I had come from a working rather than middle class family by that stage? I don’t know to be honest, the values of my parents were so similar that it never occurred to me that there was a difference between the value placed on education based on class until I was older.

    All this PC stuff leaves me cold as it is such a facade to make people feel good about themselves not to the help the individuals or groups concerned. Look at me I am not a racist because I will read books by ethnic minorities to the children or the like. Equally perverse is the group of people (I imagine the people you referred would be among them) believe that despite their own upbringing which involved no poverty, they understand it better than those who have had experience of it. Talk about patronising – not so kind and considerate because your view of the world has been challenged. I also find the ‘offend no-one’ kind of teacher – well a bit offensive as they try and pretend that by avoiding anything that seems controversial. The RE planning suggested a visit to a Sikh Temple so I said we should go as I knew the one my dad went to had an education centre where they worked with schools – perfect you would think and less work. Apparently it would offend the parents according to a colleague. I went to the head and complained as I thought it was unfair that white working class children would not get a range of experiences but if they were from a different background they would. He agreed – guess the number of complaints. Exactly – zero. How mental.

    The teachers that I remember as being the least sexist, racist, prejudice of any kind were in fact my solid strict teachers who sense of right and wrong extended to treating all human beings the same. They did so – I never even thought about the make-up of my background, class, etc because I was learning and learning from people who pushed me to excel because that is what good teachers do. They don’t care about the issues (unless it is affecting you negatively so they intervene behind the scenes not in full view of the class) and about what your background is. they teach you to the best of their ability and expect you to do well.

    I would still reiterate that the so called ‘lefties’ are not very left at all. Being a marxist doesn’t mean you walk around selling the socialist worker, it means you understand where those people were coming from. Gramsci was a heck of a lot more left wing and marxist than the individuals who these days claim to be and it is from him that the idea of cultural capital comes from. So if they wanted to be left-wing they ought to take a leave from his book and make sure that the knowledge gap between rich and poor does not exist and to reinforce it through their teaching. He is no doubt turning in his grave everytime another ‘left’wing’ teacher or educationalist makes excuses or treats the children of the poor differently.

    The kind of patronising response you get is because schools have too many white middle class women of low intelligence (presumably as it was a job they could get) in EYFS and primary education who are similar in personality and attitude. Everyone else can get lost as far as they are concerned or assimilate into their way of teaching. I am not saying all women belonging to this category act in this manner – because those that are intelligent get the same short shrift as the ethnic minorities, men or teachers from working class backgrounds get. Primary education needs to open up shop and be more diverse so that all opinions are taken into account when making decisions and not just the ‘save their souls’ brigade who tot out nonsense. There is not one part of me that wishes I had been taught in a progressive way and am glad that I wasn’t.

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    • Thanks for your comment! I agree with your comments on the ‘lefty’ thing. Unfortunately for many on the left, ‘left’ also includes people who really just don’t like anyone who had a private education (or experience with Classical music, as per my previous post on music when someone with a drama degree really felt the need to trash my knowledge about music). So, when I say ‘lefty’, I refer to these people who use ‘left wing’ as a cover for inverse snobbery.

      Unfortunately too, opinions like mine that really come from a ‘why can’t we just teach and then let them practise’ perspective of a concerned parent and someone who has had a career before teaching are seen as unimportant.

      Far too much media is devoted to progressive educationalists and I really think they sometimes abuse that. You don’t need to be on twitter to actually see what is being said, that is how audacious these people are!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you but I think what I and the other poster wanted to see was the word of the responses as it would make their objections clearer!! Also did you get onto mumsnet? How was the response there?

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      • Somebody actually re-posted one of my blogposts on mumsnet and it took off like a rocket! Mumsnet is the place it seems.
        The reaction on mumsnet was mixed: some agreed, and there were some teachers on there who had a serious issue with me taking the time to blog. They felt I should be devoted 100% to my class, likewise there were similar comments about whether I was a parent or not.
        Many though were very happy with their local primary school because their child ‘was very happy’ there. It seems plenty of parents really buy into the idea that the number one priority for school was to entertain and placate children, the ‘happiness of the child’ taking precedent.
        Also, there were some pretty snotty comments about Rousseau. It seems that apparently everybody already knows who he was and what he was all about (I didn’t! I must be the only parent who knew nothing)?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Or you are an honest parent who in fact doesn’t pretend to know things. This is why I am starting to be convinced that different types of schools is a good thing. If people want their children to go to a school and ‘be happy’ and that’s enough for them then fine. If they actually want them to achieve something then there should be other schools that cater for that and have teachers in them that can focus the children on it. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best but it seems both parenting and teaching has become so regressive. I was thinking the other day that wild animals know how to parent better than some humans. I don’t think there is anything other than direct instruction and they don’t let them go off and just kind of discover what they need to know. I agree it maybe more basic but if an animal that is supposed to be less intelligent than us have not evolved out of these tendencies then why are we doing it to ourselves? I mean seriously what is there to be gained. Those who think that traditional means no innovation are missing the point, the innovation comes in the form of problem solving as and when it is needed not constantly trying new things for the sake of it.

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