Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Chris Port Blog #349. Strike Like A Ghost: Imperceptibly.

© Chris Port, 1 October 2013

I don’t disapprove of today’s teachers’ strike in principle. However, in practice, I think it will play into Gove’s oily hands.

Contrary to his propaganda machine, the teaching profession is not a hotbed of cultural Marxists. Politically, it’s fragmented and cynical.

The public casus belli of pay and pensions was chosen to unite disparate factions under a single banner.

The real problem is the relentless politicization of our education system by right-wing ideologues, and its privatization by the back door. But this is a complex issue, difficult to quantify, which often divides teachers more than uniting them.

It’s also difficult to explain to the public (many of whom, quite frankly, are thick as shit). At least money is something they can understand.

However, over-simplification can easily become misrepresentation. I think choosing pay as a battleground was a tactical error. It makes it easier for Gove to misrepresent teachers as being greedy and selfish.

There’s also a danger of self-fulfilling prophecy here. Gove’s policies are increasingly promoting greed and selfishness at the heart of our education system, and teachers are mutating to survive.

I’m not going to say much about ‘performance-related’ pay here, other than:

a) the American experience has been a counter-productive disaster: the measurement systems are unreliable and divorced from reality;

b) its advocates are ideologically motivated: when presented with empirical evidence challenging their claims, it’s clear they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about;

c) it encourages teachers to compete against each other rather than co-operate with each other (e.g. backstabbing, figure-fiddling, blame-shifting, etc. etc.)

Here’s my short-term advice for the teaching profession:

Forget public sympathy for obvious strike action. You’re not going to get it. The public is greedy and selfish. It has no sympathy for anything other than itself.

Instead, strike like a ghost: imperceptibly.

Work to rule. Say eight hours a day?

One hour prep before lessons, five hours of teaching, then two hours of admin. Then walk out of the gate. Don’t take any work home.

Prioritize teaching, planning and assessment. All the other paperwork, ‘initiatives’ and data-churning can wait. If it doesn’t get done in those eight hours, then it doesn’t get done. Let government and management sort out any mess. The public couldn’t care less if bureaucrats start having to do their own dirty work.

Lock Ofsted out of your classroom. They’re a political attack dog and nothing to do with ‘standards’ any more. Instead, open your classroom to parents. Let them come in at any time to see what really goes on.

Here’s my long-term advice for the teaching profession:

Get out. Any teacher who cares will go mad. Any teacher who doesn’t care is already mad.

Forget Gove. His successor will be just as bad or worse. The current paradigm is privatization and profit. Nothing is going to change that until the system collapses (which is inevitable). What are the unions fighting for? A deal over pensions. That tells you everything you need to know.

Go into supply teaching and private tuition. If you stay, you’re a martyr. But a despised one.

If you’re a parent with money, pull your children out and hire a private tutor. If you’re a parent without money, then I’m very very sorry.

Perhaps, if enough of you get together, you can set up some kind of informal home schooling arrangement with other parents and altruistic tutors. If you don’t live in that kind of community, then you’re on your own.

Again, I’m truly sorry. But not enough of you backed your teachers when they really needed you.

Eventually, after the system collapses, there will be a peace conference. It’s that battleground I’m looking forward to. The current one is lost.

If you disagree, I wish you well. But I think you’ll end up smashing your brains out against a wall.

P.S. Some interesting info on the privatization of Ofsted inspections...

‘Failed’ inspectors lose their jobs after Ofsted test

Approved inspectorates: Tribal Education Ltd

See also:

Teachers Talking Rot (1 of 2)

Teachers Talking Rot (2 of 2)

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