Tuesday, May 17

Dear Gavin Williamson, Schools Need Kindness In This Covid Crisis, But You Talk About Behavior | Education

THEOne of the most uplifting moments I’ve had as a school parent was when I saw a daycare teacher, let’s call her Doreen, work with a class that included one of my sons. Groups of children gathered in turns next to an aquarium while Doreen gently encouraged each to talk about what they could see, making sure they were not talking to each other, that they listened to each other as she “echoed” what they were saying, repeating key words . She gave each child courage and power as they described what was happening in the aquarium: “That one is chasing the striped one …” “Chasing … yeah?” The moment he saw a child get distracted, he “led” the child back to the group by gently saying his name, asking another question such as “What do you think?”

Through this open dialogue led by the teacher, the children were engrossed; they built shared ideas and meanings; they developed trust with each other and with the teacher, and found voices to express what one of their senses (sight) could perceive. These were three-year-olds.

With this in mind, I was very interested in reading the text of the speaks you gave the Foundation for the Development of Education earlier this month about “education and moving forward together.” One of the first sentences that flew off the page was the one in which you said that “traditional teacher-led lessons with children sitting across from the expert at the front of the class are powerful tools to enable a structured learning environment where everyone thrives.” .

I immediately thought of Doreen and my son’s class grouped together, group by group, next to the aquarium. My God, was Doreen wrong? Should the whole class have been in their seats, looking the same way, looking at Doreen and not at the aquarium? Aside from Goveano’s usual trick of saying that his point of view is “evidence-based” (without naming the evidence), I’m not sure why you are the expert on this matter. Since this was a “let’s all go together” and “get back to work” speech indicating what is going to be important in the future, I scratched my head as to why I would highlight this particular theory in this time of crisis. .

And while we are in crisis, I thought about the terrible lack of thought, reflective action or – apart from vaccination – the lack of creative solutions that your government has shown in the face of this pandemic. And what is worse: a deep and terrifying lack of ethics towards people who were old or sick when the virus arrived. Surely your speech would reflect this, I thought, so I scanned the paragraphs for an indication that you were calling for schools to be environments where invention, curiosity, creativity, inquiry, flexibility, interpretation, empathy, social concern and human values ​​would flourish. No. Not there.

You had a different approach. To reduce it to a sentence, you said, “Now, more than ever, we need schools to create an environment that facilitates behavior and is hard not to.” You really got excited about your homework on this. Judging from your speech, “behavior, behavior, behavior” could be the catchphrase for your party’s next election, although hearing your leader utter those words may have the opposite effect than intended.

I thought of Doreen, the kids, and the aquarium. I thought about the way they had “behaved”: talking, explaining, discovering, inventing, listening, sharing, exploring, and learning. They “behaved” (or were learning to do it) because they had a reason for doing it.

However, you had more to say. I was pleased to see that he thought school-to-school cooperation was a good idea: “Partnerships are… essential between schools. We know that schools benefit from being in a strong school family, ”he said. They are “powerful vehicles for improving schools, sharing experience, working collaboratively and driving improvements.”

Yes indeed, I thought, this was the base of the local authorities, with their teams of local advisers, calling conferences of local teachers, giving courses, putting experience in all the schools in their locality, producing learning materials adapted to the area. . , all under direct local democratic control. But then I looked again and of course you weren’t talking about this, were you? You were talking about multi-academy trusts.

In other words, after years of massive upheavals, large amounts of cash wasted and the elimination of local responsibility, we are done with their “discovery”: that schools cooperating with each other is a good thing … which is what they were doing. anyway.

It’s a bit like reinventing the wheel, but only the kind you approve of.

Yours, Michael Rosen


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