A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: The Stockholm Network on choice and competition in schools
Previous entry: Why no transfer fees?
Wednesday April 02 2008

I don’t know who Graham Jones Internet Psychlogist is, but Iain Dale seems to rate him, probably because he is taking a swipe at Ed Balls:

Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Education in the UK, wants “cyberbullying” of teachers to be a disciplinary offence. Apparently, school pupils sometimes ridicule their teachers in online chat rooms and on social networking sites. Well knock me down with a feather, there’s a shock.

Look, Mr Balls, children have always taken the mickey out of their teachers - and politicians. But there is a common theme. I remember my Latin teacher, Mr Beattie or “Bogroll” as we called him. He was a nice enough chap, but wholly unable to cope with 30 teenage boys. No doubt he knew his Latin well, but he couldn’t teach. We mercilessly took the rise.

Sure, it’s unfair; certainly it’s rude; and perhaps you could call it bullying. But it’s a fact of life for bad teachers. There’s the common link - pupils do not take the mickey out of good teachers. They like them and they would defend them against criticism. Poor teachers, on the other hand - like poor politicians - get ridiculed.

I may be jumping to conclusions, but I suspect this guy went to a basically good school with the occasional bad teacher, but that he has far less idea of what it is like in a less than good school.

I certainly agree that micromanaging the unwelcome symptoms of a system is not the way to improve it.  But my understanding is that teaching has got a whole lot more difficult in recent years.  People who couldn’t make the grade as Latin teachers in the kind of schools that teach Latin are indeed probably not cut out for such a job.  But damning all teachers who now have their lives made hell by those whom they are now trying to teach?  That’s not something I’d care to do.