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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Teachers are not allowed to teach.

I ran into a friend of mine the other day who is a kindergarten teacher.  She was telling me about the work that she was doing with her kids.  Last year, parents were disappointed that their children did not seem to be learning much.  Is kindergarten supposed to be educational or is it just a glorified day-care centre I wonder.  This year, she is working well with her children but finds it difficult as she is forbidden to do any structural learning activities.  Kindergarten is supposed to be student centred, play based learning.  The kids decide what they will do during the day.  How does that prepare them for school I wonder?  My friend is not only responsible for the kids during the day, but she must write constant reports about their progress throughout the year.  What is the point of this when she is not allowed to teach them anything?  She was even criticised for having the letters of the alphabet displayed on the walls.  Much of her time is also taken up with health and safety checks and other paperwork.  She barely gets time to "play" with the kids at all.  What a ridiculous system.

I had similar problems when I was teaching three years ago.  We were supposed to keep records of the students' progress (on top of their regular assessment), by assessing them constantly throughout each lesson.  These detailed reports would take hours to write at the end of each day.  On top of that we had to prepare our lessons, find resources, set these up in the classroom and justify our decisions as to what type of lesson was being conducted and what learning styles this would address.  If all of this was done "correctly" we would be up all hours of the night and at school very early to get it all done.  No wonder teachers are leaving the profession burned out within 3-5 years.

The regulations are inappropriate for the profession.  To do the right thing by the students, teachers have to decide which rules to follow and which to ignore whist watching their backs the whole time.  They are not focussed on teaching anymore as much as covering their butts and working the system.  And the kids are suffering.  Many students who fall behind do not ever get a chance to catch up because the teachers are not allowed to teach anything other than the curriculum for that year.  There is no time for them to do anything else.  Students who are gifted also do not get their needs met because they have to wait for the rest of the class.  Yet, the teachers are expected to justify how they are addressing the needs of individuals.

The government has us all fooled.  They have taken on the responsibility of educating our children but are not doing it at all well.  Teachers are not to blame, they are doing the best they can.  It is the system which is flawed.  We must take back the responsibility for the education of our children and not leave it to the so-called professionals.  Think of the school as a resource and nothing more.  You need to decide what is best for your child, not the government.  To them your child is just a number with an A-E score attached.  Take an interest, take responsibility, and question everything.  Twelve years is a lot of life to be wasted on a bad education.

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