Obviously the need to make good TV meant a few of the eminent teaching resources assembled were to be thrown to the lions. The recent Dream School TV programme showed just how difficult it is to be a good teacher despite the the very obvious credentials of the star “teachers.” The science games used by Professor Winston in his biology class were the hit of the programme proving that knowing the subject is only half of the equation. The key element is to make learning fun backed up by educational games to raise the interest and involvement of the class.
Teaching is said to be 30 per cent subject knowledge, 40 per cent class control, and 50 per cent enthusiasm. Quite! Thus good teachers are a rare breed, and not necessarily numerate! The use of celebrities in the programme showed one or two having a really tough time. The content of the lesson were inspiring but the delivery proved to be the downfall of the “celebrity teachers.” Applying well meant pedagogy to the wrong target audience misapplied the depth of their wisdom that was predominately lost on the children. Tragic really as the teachers were the cream in their subject areas. The programme managed to prove, in a modern school, totally different skills are needed to motivate children in the learning process than the celebrity teachers possessed. In adulthood learning is predominately a pull activity where the individual’s mature viewpoint recognises the advantages of learning and seeks out wisdom. In the school classroom learning is predominately a push operation where the immature child has to first learn why they need to learn.
The Headteacher in the programme, acting as the moderator in the experiment, openly grimaced as he watched some of the playbacks of the celebrity classes. But the lasting memory of the opening episode was the opinion of the Headteacher and Jamie Oliver urge that one celebrity teacher should apologise to the class. Clearly a rush of blood to the head and indicative of the real issue that has infiltrated many classrooms. Teachers are operating in a system pandering too much to the sensibilities of children. Discipline has been eroded by the force of political correctness. Children demand apologies, know their rights, and struggle to apply the work ethic that will steer them through school and employment. Disruption in the classroom created when the teachers authority is questioned is possibly the greatest drain on teaching resources imaginable. The net result are tranches of unemployable children.
The remark made by Mr. David Starkey, reacting to the indifference shown by the Dream class demonstrated two things; firstly this eminent historian was horribly mismatched to the intellect of the class. At home in the higher echelons of academia teaching gradates did not translate well to a class assembled for the programme. Secondly the Headteachers obvious grimace at the sleight made to one of the class by Mr. Starkey, was in his eyes a teaching taboo. But the reality is the modern Headteacher had become too accustomed to no-go areas in the classroom. Rather than demanding the respect teachers should enjoy he had bowed to p.c. convention and sought an apology for the “teacher’s” actions. The rules appeared to skirt around the issue than meet it head on. The fact Jamie Oliver referred to the historian as “Starkey” in the discussion perhaps shows the depth of the issue.
Teaching has metamorphosed over the last couple of decades, and not for the better. The lack of discipline that can dramatically deplete the value of our teaching resources is fairly commonplace. It is a key reason why 50 per cent of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within five years. Perhaps the Dream School programme should focus on this as a central issue. Maybe then the producers of the programme would be hard pressed to assemble a group of kids who have fallen foul of the learning process, probably because they were allowed to be disruptive in school and at home – and knew their rights.