Who needs teachers?

This post follows a series I’m running at my place about the desperate situation in education, the last one being here and another due at midday today.

The short answer to: “Who needs teachers?” in today’s environment is “no one”, particularly bad teachers who are defined as anyone coming through state teacher training in the past 20 years.  However talented, they’ve been brainwashed and I write as an insider until three years ago.  The human cost of so many bad teachers who are effectively pushing socially correct garbage down kids’ throats rather than actually teaching them the basics is now critical.

It was getting bad for decades but now it’s critical. I’ve met these people and have heard their cloistered views on what the kiddies should be “exposed to”. I wouldn’t want many of these anywhere near my kids.

Thus this article is grist for the mill:

The Kindle and Nook may make for not only the most important advance in reading since Gutenberg, but also, quite likely, a major lesson in unintended consequences.  Especially for the educational establishment, because for the first time in history, Americans should be able to envision a future without public-school teachers — indeed, a future without public-school administrators or state departments of education with their rigidly enforced, politically correct social-transformation curriculum. 

A future without onerous school taxes, “education president(s),” self-preening school boards, or million-dollar classrooms.  But most happily, a future without a single supercilious finger wagging in our face as we’re forever lectured about how much a securely tenured, part-time, self-important, overpaid class of public employees “cares” about our sons and daughters.  Really, really, really cares.  And, of course, knows much better than we do how to bring them up.

He has a point, he really does but sadly, in throwing out the baby with the bathwater, one point is overlooked – there were once and can be again “good” teachers, the Mr. Chipses of the world, well versed and conservative in their methodology, the Angus McIvors of the world.  Older readers will recall the textbooks, the drills …

And the learning which took place.  How to reverse the trend because there is a whole generation of non-teachers now who seriously need re-educating but mass reeducation is as bad as what the brainwashed are now doing.

The first step is suggested by the writer above in the article – it’s for parents to start the process by withdrawing children from these schools.  The market can well speak, even to public sector schools and thence to the government.  We don’t want what we have – we want education for our children.

If enough parents do that, then we’ll get parents banding together, first in one home, then the other, then in a small building they jointly rent, and they’ll employ and vet good teachers in their terms, in Chuckles’ terms, in the terms of the writer of the quoted article.

That’s a massively positive and not unachievable first step.

20 comments for “Who needs teachers?

  1. Rossa
    December 30, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Only one problem with that James. If the parents have been through the current system then they may have no concept of what a Mr Chips is. And the longer this goes on the worse it will get.

    If a parent hasn’t had the education then they may not know how to get an education for their kids or even want to. They wouldn’t know a good teacher from a bad one. Without parental motivation the revolution in the system you want won’t happen. It may be more a case of “well if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for my child”. Poverty of thought as much as means.

    And once those of us who have had an education are no longer here then they have what they want. Complete control from birth to death because the people will know no better.

    • December 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

      That is the dilemma.

    • ivan
      December 30, 2011 at 9:46 am

      It has to happen soon, while there are grandparents still about who remember to old system and teaching, grandparents that want better fot their grandkids.

      The longer education stays in the hands of the government – central and local – the further and faster the decline will continue.

      Just watch the film ‘Idiocracy’ to see where we are headed.

      • December 30, 2011 at 10:21 am

        Here’s a comment I found from an engineer I shan’t name 🙂 :

        I started teaching general engineering in 1960 at a Technical High School but got out five years later into industry when I saw the writing on the wall.

        They did not want teachers that taught the children to think for themselves. There was a suggestion that I and several others should attend special training courses in ‘new think’ – they didn’t call it that but that was what it was. Most of us left, including the head, at about the same time. Then they turned a very good school – equivalent to a grammar in GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels passed – that parents wanted their children to attend, into one the education department found it hard to fill.

        What is needed is a complete clean out of the education system with the removal of all teachers and education department – both state and local – that subscribe to the liberal, marxist agenda.

        One way to do that would be to remove all state control of schools, funding would be attached to the pupils so that if a group of parents wanted to set up a school they could. Final examinations should be set by the universities as they were in my day and children should be allowed to fail if they didn’t meet the standard.

        Will it happen? Not unless the government is forced into it.”

        Worth noting, that is.

  2. Mudplugger
    December 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

    The key problem with governments’ recent pressures on education is that it’s all been about ‘process’ rather than ‘outcomes’.

    They have sought to make the ‘process’ of being educated one which is stimulating, exciting, involving, inclusive etc. for the recipients, when what they should have been targeting is the ‘outcome’ required for the nation.

    The simple target outcome from primary education is a solid mass of 11-year-olds, numerate and literate, having learnt how to learn, and ready to apply those key skills to a range of topics in secondary schools. Nothing more, nothing less.

    The target outome of secondary schooling is twofold – firtly, a group of late teenagers who have demonstrated capacity in key topics and for whom further academic education will benefit both them and society. The second target group is those aiming at immediate employment, where the key requirement is for advanced numeracy and literacy skills, accompanied by development of personal talents observed during the teaching process.

    That way, we prepare young people for their own real worlds after school and, at the same time, deliver to the academic and commercial sectors the product they need to carry out their very different tasks.

    That’s not rocket-science, in fact it’s pretty close to how state education operated so successfully before the ‘one-size-fits-all’, ‘everybody wins pirzes’, PC agenda took over.

    It’s tempting to blame teachers, and they are not immune from criticism, but the basic fault lies with governments not understanding the strategic nature of education or planning it to align with real world needs, rather than PC social-engineering.

    Even if they started getting it right from 2012, it would be towards the late 2020s before the effect was visible – that’s why it’s strategic and why the last few decades of patchwork PC sticking-plaster have been so wrong.

  3. Robert Edwards
    December 30, 2011 at 10:54 am

    There has surely been no better time for (say) the Headmasters’ Conference to take unilateral action in raising standards by the introduction of their own examination board. This would involve complete secession from the National curriculum, the introduction of which triggered the latest phase of the rot.

    I know that Independent Schools are not necessarily obliged to follw the wretched thing (many do, however) but its very existence invites interference from the Left.

    The Unionisation of teaching (and affiliation with the TUC, ffs) is the next matter which must be addrressed. It is insidious, to say the least…

  4. December 30, 2011 at 11:42 am

    May I add an exchange at my place:

    Sackers: But nuance it – e.g. work out unintended consequences, incl. the US experience that private schools turn in even worse results than public – just ask Paddington.

    Me: That is not borne out by experience or stats, Sackers. The dead giveaway is your use of the term “private” for “independent”. It’s an illusion the left tries to perpetrate and as you well know in politics, stats are manipulated to serve ends. “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” Observe the U.S. and UK governments of both persuasions.



    Also, define “better”, “worse” in education. We might have entirely different definitions, according to our politics/philosophy.

    I have to say I agree with both Mudplugger and Robert above with one caveat – unfortunately, so many of the teachers have been tainted because they are brought into the system which advises government to do as it does anyway and which is filled with the “child centred”, “find yourself” focussed learning – these new teachers perpetuate it and they become the old teachers who pass that on to the new etc.

    It’s not personally attacking this teacher or that – it is, as you say, the system.

    • Sackerson
      December 31, 2011 at 9:44 am

      You didn’t include my riposte. Naughty.

  5. December 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Steiner Schools for all. That’s the answer. First Steiner Free Academy to open in Frome Sept 2012. The Free Schools can break the pernicious grip the Left have had over state education for 40+ years. In which time, the quality of said education has gone from bad to worse.

  6. David
    December 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Two major problems:

    one – many parents see school not as an education establishment but as somewhere to get rid of their offspring so they can get on with business of watching daytime TV

    two – many working households rely on two incomes to pay the mortgage/rent and bills (and of course there are those one parent working households who can’t give up work to home educate)

    TPTB had it all sewn up long ago.

    • December 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Yes but there are ways around it with other parents combined. Clearly the feckless wouldn’t be into it.

  7. December 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    If I might also add – I’m considering putting together a grammar and methodology book for the home educator, taking in the best of what’s available or was. If I could reprint from my own site again:

    The model already exists but has been ignored for some decades.

    A MacIvor First Aid in English with say a Collins English Grammar would be a good basis for a textbook. Knockout wasn’t bad [Oxford] as a modern text but was more EFL/ESOL.


    Forget any of the pretty picture texts because they don’t give the backup work. You need to also buy the maximizer and even then it’s not enough. Some of the 40s texts were good, unadorned with claptrap and with simple line drawings.

    Numeracy – any of the early texts will do. Tables drills, spelling drills, “review-concept-application-exercises-homework-review-review one week later [or end of unit]-formal test” is a good methodology.

    In other areas, e.g. physics, chem, biology, obviously a discovery approach is needed for the exercises. The pupil gets the principle from the discovery, then honed by the teacher. All of this is just basic and it’s amazing how it’s been abandoned.

    All sorts of methodologies, e.g. cloze, key word transformation, wordbuilding, spot the error:

    Countable and uncountable nouns

    Two of these sentences are correct but eight of them are wrong (or unlikely). Find and correct the mistakes:

    # People is becoming more and more concerned
 about pollution.

    # I’m on a diet so I had a very light lunch: just a
 turkey with a little salad.

    # We did much hard exercise as we realize that
 intensive training is essential.

    # She spent several days in bed with flu, so she’s
 quite weak.

    # He enjoys playing cards, especially poker, but he
 always seems to have a bad luck.

    # I saw an interesting news about gymnastics on
 television last night.

    # There was such a bad behaviour by a few youths 
that the place closed down.

    # Little players turned up for the basketball game so 
it was cancelled.

    # Safety is the absolute priority when using
 equipment such as this.

    # He says he speaks a very good English but I have 
my doubts.

    Countable nouns have both a singular and plural form, for example tree and trees. Uncountable nouns have no plural form.

    Which of these words from the reading text are countable, and which uncountable?

    island [ ] beaches [ ] health [ ] diet [ ] herbs [ ] pasta [ ] toast [ ] bread [ ] bowl [ ] evidence [ ] butter [ ] cakes [ ] cancer [ ] secrets [ ]

    Study the expressions below and decide which ones are used with:

    a countable nouns only.
    b uncountable nouns only.
    c either countable or uncountable nouns.

    Which of them are used in questions and negative statements, but not often in positive statements?

    From there you’d go to articles. It’s all been done, all laid out – you just need to find them as a home-educator. I can help that way by pointing you to good texts and helping out with methodology. I’m thinking of writing a new English textbook, K-12, which will incorporate most of the best.

    It’s daunting to the non-teacher but I assure you the methodology is straightforward on each of the topics. Yes, you need to suit material to learning age but that’s not impossible and if you had a handy guide to methodology, as well as pointers to good material you could use, it would make it easier.

    Above all, don’t be frightened to try it, this homeschooling, if you can arrange your personal schedule adequately. At a minimum, I’d check out the independent school with the best results locally, visit and ask about their reading programme and English texts. Then phone other noted schools up and down the UK and ask them about these texts.

    When some seem to come up more than others, that might be the one to try. See if it’s AW Longmans or Oxford or whatever and call them. Ignore English per se and ask about ESOL texts or programmes. You’ll get an idea which are sworn by and which are not as widespread.

    That’s a start. You’ll have a base text producer. Find out from the publisher which is suitable for your age child and get the one before, the right one and the next one – it’ll cost you but it’s worth it.

    Network with other home-educators but note their political/philosophical positions in their comments.

    Formalize it with your child – have a set of targets in each topic and as he achieves them, issue the certificate [photoshop or bought]. Perhaps add other incentives but that’s a hot topic in itself.

    Give yourself time to sit down one day [maybe Saturday] and see the whole picture of the programme K-12. Ask, email, find out. All my material is for adults/foreigners so it might not initially help.

    • Voice of Reason
      December 31, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      James – this sounds fine, especially encouraging people to home-school. Unfortunately, the millions of US parents who do so produce students who are less-educated than the normal products of public (versus private) schools.

  8. Mudplugger
    December 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Remember the old Australian outback schooling model ? Kids being taught over a two-way radio, paperwork flowing through the post ?

    Now just apply that approach with the technology we have available today. We have broadband internet virtually everywhere, computers or smart phones in every kid’s kit, skype and e-mail, so what’s stopping us ?

    We would then need only a small number of really excellent teachers to deliver formal lessons live and on-line, exactly the same lesson nationwide, with pupils able to question them ‘live’, allowing all the audience to hear both question and answer. Coursework could be done on-line or transmitted via e-mail.

    A team of support staff could ‘mark’ the coursework, thus allowing the star teachers to concentrate only on delivery. We could then sell the same service to other English-speaking nations, allowing all their pupils to get the benefit of a UK education and thus probably recovering all the costs of our own system. Alternatively, donate it to developing nations instead of handing vast amounts of cash-aid to their corrupt ruling-classes.

    Sell off all those over-priced, over-specified school buildings, or just demolish and turn them into playing fields for the local PE lessons. More attractively, sack 95% of the current and incompetent teaching and support staff, along with all the massive overhead ‘passengers’.

    Schooling then becomes something delivered free of charge, directly into the homes of all children – whether they take it up or not is down to the parents to enforce.

    And that’s a game-changer. Over to you, Mr Gove.

    • Voice of Reason
      December 31, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      It’s been tried in the US extensively, and the results are dismal, despite the best efforts of many of the parents. We don’t know exactly why, but my suspicion is that it is something to do with the personal connection that is made between a good teacher and their classes.

  9. December 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Now just apply that approach with the technology we have available today. We have broadband internet virtually everywhere, computers or smart phones in every kid’s kit, skype and e-mail, so what’s stopping us ?

    Oh agreed. With all this above, it could all be done online, parents can just tap into the resource which sends kids out in a thousand directions. It’s so easy to be done but it’s the will to do it, the parents finding a way to keep income coming in and yet do it. the methodology is a piece of cake – just takes some manhours to put together on a site.

    It’s getting it to parents to use. That way online they could choose when to download etc.

    • Mudplugger
      December 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

      Glad you agree.

      Of course, the smart way to introduce it would be to start with the universities, thus immediately slashing the cost-profile of optional tertiary education, especially the travel, accommodation and hedonistic-lifestyle aspects (sorry, students, you’re still living with Mum). Once established there, it would be a natural extension down to secondary schooling as part of the feeder-system for the ‘academic’ pupils.

      I can hear the rumblings of discontent at the demise of sinecures in the gilded groves of academe as I write……

  10. Voice of Reason
    December 30, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    How much of the UK problem is caused by the Colleges of Education who teach nothing but are experts in pedagogy? This is certainly a key problem in the US.

    Much has already been mentioned above, ‘one size fits all’, ‘experience versus outcome’ and so on.

    The overall problem isn’t just education (or business, government and the like). We have allowed a completely unproductive group of middle managers to not only survive, but prosper and meddle with every aspect of our lives.

    It’s time for the B Ark.

  11. Sackerson
    December 31, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Technology would certainly permit a sort of Open University type approach, esp. if backed up with interactive educational games/exercises and assessment.

    I think it would then show that you still need direct human support and encouragement, and those with indifferent parents would go up to their bedrooms and play RPG instead.

    • Voice of Reason
      December 31, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      See my comments above. Even the caring parents end up with students who are less prepared en average. I think it is because humans are are pecking-order mammals, and the pressure to succeed comes from efforts by the teacher and the competitiveness of peer pressure.

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