11/23/2006

Anecdotal Rants About Education.

Hello,
Long term readers will be aware that my schooldays were a trial. I started school a happy wee thing and left only with my schoolgirl humour intact. It would be wrong to say that I hate teachers but I dislike most of the loathsome, child hating, disappointed in life bullies to the point where I will spit in their food every chance I get. I don't meet many as an adult but I meet enough to satisfy my insatiable hunger for revenge. I should also stress that I had a handful of wonderful, gifted teachers during my schooldays, I just wish there had been more like them.

Anyway my blog-friend David Duff has been laying out his manifesto, over at his place and if I'm not mistaken he has something of a passion for good education. He puts forward a number of ideas which I'm not going to debate just now. Instead I thought I'd have a bit of an old rant about the state of education.

I need hardly say that my education was crap. If it hadn't been for my habit of truanting and sitting in public libraries reading books all day I'd be a vegetable by now. I can't help thinking that it said more about my teachers than it did about me when they told me to stop going off and reading books when I should be in school. Most of them were useless creatures with not an ounce of passion or enthusiasm. Racehorses are shot for being less unfit for purpose. Anyway I'm wandering off the point. A number of incidents have been brought to my attention or occurred in my own life which lead me to suspect that Scottish education has managed what I'd never have believed possible in that it has got worse.

It was my misfortune to attend school under Thatcher's reign. I believe there was a dispute of some description and a strike. If only Thatcher had left the miners alone and crushed the teaching profession instead. As history records she didn't and I spent my schooldays being educated by a bunch of surly, work to rule arseholes. Not a single school trip or after school club that might have captured my imagination, by the time it calmed down the teachers seemed to punishing the pupils by taking them on the worst trips possible (My first school trip lasted two weeks. It was hell). So a big thanks to all concerned for wasting time that I'll never get back. As you can see I'm bitter, though I comforted myself with the knowledge that it would be better for the next generation and those that followed.

Ha Ha Ha! Today I handed a number of letters to be typed over to our new office junior who's sixteen years of age. Good Lord! You'd find a higher literacy rate in a barnyard. I can't remember how many chimpanzees one needs to give a typewriter before they come up with the works of Shakespeare but I feel certain it would take a million office juniors to come up with anything resembling a sentence.

One letter in particular struck me. When it came back typed it was written in a very odd form of English. I assumed the computer must have gone mad and sent it back. It was returned to me topped by a fluorescent pink 'post it' which read 'wats da problem' in 'bubble writing'. I have never been so surprised in my life. I gently explained 'da problem' and the junior explained that she couldn't read my handwriting. I was relieved at this news and in fairness my handwriting can get a bit wild. I took the letter and wrote it out in print. No joined up nonsense. I got the next draft back entirely in capital letters. I don't mind telling you that my eyes filled with tears at this point. In the end I typed it myself whilst junior said 'fuck's sake' at a mobile phone. The great news is that she's pregnant.

I was chatting to a fellow from the education department who is close to jacking it all in, so dismayed is he by the state of things. On his latest mission he encountered a girl who'd been suspended for telling her teacher to fuck off. I can't help feeling the girl had a certain amount of right on her side given that she is 13 and unable to sign her name, tell the time on a clock face or articulate herself. I claim no expertise in these matters but the fact that the school thought the biggest problem there was her disrespectful attitude towards a teacher speaks volumes.

Last year's work experience girl was a A* student almost across the board. Nevertheless she had great difficulty with basic spelling and grammar. Of the two people I have met described above I can honestly say that they are bright, funny entertaining young women who I'm confident could turn their hand to anything. Why can't they be given the education they deserve?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

What you're saying really concerns me, because I've got two kids who're going to be going to school here in a few years time. I've debated/argued with Linzi quite a lot regarding the values we hold in terms of education. I went to a single-sex school, which was great for education but stunted me socially - I hardly even knew any girls until I went to uni. (I should point out that a large number of schools in Ireland are single-sex; it's not unusual to attend a single-sex school, as Tom Jones once said).

Anyway, Linzi (who went to school over here) had the opposite: a fantastic bunch of kids she hung around with, many of whom she's still close to today, who all looked after each other and sorted each other out through the awkward formative years, and all that crap, but with a lower standard of education. She maintains that, although the standard of education she received was not fantastic, she's willing to sacrifice this for our kids to make sure they don't grow up lacking basic social abilities (stuff I didn't develop until my late teens).

In the end, we both went to uni, got degrees and all that, so does how we got there matter? Yes it bloody does. I don't think the way I grew up was right, but the standard of education really needs to be looked at, not just in terms of government, but within the family. Learning starts at home - I'm maybe surmising too much, but I'm guessing your family encouraged you to read, and that's partly why you went to the library? We work hard to teach our kids as much as possible, but I fear too many parents use schools as a place to dump the kids for the day. In a situation like that, what hope have the wee shites got, even if they want to learn?

Sorry, very sleepy writing this and it's turned into kind of a ramble. There's a point in there somewhere, I think.

alan said...

you're right, but don't blame the teachers. blame the parents, the education authorities, and the government. basic numeracy and literacy aren't even on the agenda any more, and a high percentage of parents nowadays are themselves too illiterate to notice. the parents are also entirely at fault if their child tells a teacher to fuck off.

ill man said...

Kav, state schools did nothing for my social skills. Going to Cardonald College however..........

I'm still rubbish with girls though.

Clairwil, like you I can count the great teachers I had on the fingers of one hand. Sure there were bullies, but mainly it was time servers and nervous wrecks.

Most teachers are average. Some are naturally gifted, some are in the wrong job. It's always been that way. You can't regulate how people bring up their kids so until the day you can, teachers are going to be faced with things they maybe weren't warned of in the instruction manual. What is teacher training these days? Is ist purely academic or is there stuff about crowd control as well?

What I want to know is whether or not they still employ utter psychopaths in primary schools. That's what scarred me. forget 'Hitler' Mckenzie or Big Jake or Jimmy 'bites yer bum' Neil, they were a right bunch of pussycats compared to Mrs Davis in P1.

Sorry for going on a bit...........

Neil. said...

Schooldays were the worst days of my life. I hated almost every minute of it. I wasn't physically bullied, well not much, but I was just never one of the lads. Last to be picked for the team, and all that (not that I minded in that sense; I fucking hate sports and always have done) but even so, it's the whole peer-pressure thing. Only when I left school and got a job on the YTS and found that adults and other people my own age treated me like a person, did I start to come out of my shell and develop a social life. My God, then I found that a woman could actually like me for myself and not judge that it was too uncool to be seen with me due to the insular peer-pressure of school, and hence sexual relationships were suddenly as much an option for me as for the "hard-man" crowd of neanderthal cunts at school. Wow.
Nope, fuck school. I could (possibly?) do time in jail and not feel as imprisoned as I did back then.

Clairwil said...

Kav,
I don't know what to suggest. Personally if I had children I'd pass them round friends and family to be educated, then send them to F.E college to do their standard grades. I might also throw in a bit of private tuition on the side. School is a waste of time, if you enjoy learning.

Alan,
I have some sympathy with your remarks but as we can't control who has children, schools need to pick up the slack.

Illman,
Ah yes pointless lessons aside that first year at Cardonald was what school should have been like. Particularly drama which was exceptionally well taught.

Neil,
See it's school it beings out the worst in everyone. I think they should be firebomed. I shudder any time I'm near one.

I remember reading obout Vivienne Westwoods short lived career teaching primary children. One day she wanted them all to draw fish and marched them downb to the fishmongers to sketch various specimens in the window, then marched them back to school to do proper drawings and paintings of the fish. THAT is how you teach people.

ill man said...

Yeah, I ended up picking Dave Weatherstons music bore class. Well, I was an aspiring young music bore myself at the time so it seemed like the natural thing to do.............

Fat Sparrow said...

It's the pablum that they feed kids now days, all kinds of the worst nonsense and a bunch of touchy-feely crap. It all went downhill after they stopped beating kids in school.

I have a 15-year-old who isn't as educated as I was by the time I was 9, and she doesn't see why that's a problem, as she gets straight A's and is an Honor Student. :::sighs::: For her history class this year, her teacher has them learning how to weave yarn on a paper plate, so they can "appreciate" the hard work work that weaving was, and "feel" the impact of the Industrial Revolution. Hello?! Arts and fucking crafts? She can't even find Iraq on a map, can't tell where Europe ends and Asia begins, and you want her to fucking well weave yarn. Excellent, when she can't find a job other than "Do you want fries with that?" at least she'll have a hobby.

Mind you, she has no concept of proper grammar or spelling either, as the schools have stopped rote drilling of students because they found it to be "intellectually stifling." What intellect? I can't stand talking to these kids for more than a minute-and-a-half, as they are dumber than dirt and know nothing. What "intellect" are they stifling? As far as I can see, the schools are raising them to be little consumers with no power of original thought, who are not taught critical thinking, because then that might lead them to figure out that they are paying far too much interest on their credit cards (not that they can calculate interest anyway), and then the economy will collapse if they are not constantly spending their meager, minimum-wage earnings on absolutely nothing necessary. Not that I am bitter.

We're seriously considering home-schooling our toddler.

Clairwil said...

Well I'm not sure that beating kids is the way to go. Trying not to bore them into a stupor would be a good start. I don't mean pointless crap like plate weaving but a skilled teacher with a passion for their subject can make virtually anything interesting.

I don't blame you for considering home schooling. All school does is make the world seem small, mean and empty. Most teachers would run a mile if any of their pupils showed the smallest sign of thinking.

margin walker said...

There are too many boring people in teaching.

Fat Sparrow said...

"Well I'm not sure that beating kids is the way to go."

Hahahaha, just wait til you have kids.

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