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Articles from the Peace News log: Education

Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here

Should ex-soldiers be enlisted as teachers?

I have just read that Lordswood School in Birmingham employs ex-soldiers as teachers and runs a cadet-force to which a fifth of the pupils belong. They wear uniforms and they are taught to shoot.

Michael Gove believes this is the right way to tackle disorder in the classroom. He says, ‘The presence of role models who have the sort of experience in taking young people and forging them into a cohesive team and instilling discipline; I think that will be immensely valuable.’ (Quoted in the Guardian TV review, 1.02.11.)

This is so wrong-headed that it is hard to believe than anyone can mean it seriously. In many classrooms there is a degree of disorder that hinders  learning, but instead of recognising that this is clear evidence of the failure of the system, Gove and his allies blame it on the students, and seek to reinforce the status quo with punishment and discipline. There are parallels with Gaddafi’s efforts to blame the Libyan people for the current situation. Head teachers, like dictators, feel that they must exercise control, and that in consequence students, like Libyan citizens, must be controlled by any means available.

The problem of disorderly classes is not new. There have always been some disorderly classes even in the best of schools. This is not because their pupils are ignorant louts, it is because they resent the constant control, and when they find a teacher who is not strong enough  to cannot exert that control, they rejoice and rebel. Under the current system, pupils and teachers are enemies. This was the case when I was at school too, fifty years ago, at a time which Gove seems to see as a golden age. Some of my classes were chaotic, and I was at Eton.

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