Saturday, 27 March 2010

Greer on Education

On Tuesday I was invited by Lori Beckett, Winifred Mercier Professor of Teaching at Leeds Met to her annual lecture.The guest speaker was Germaine Greer.Germaine arrived late, poor Lori spent a desperate hour in the foyer waiting for her.
But when she did arrive she was true to form and a fantastic speaker.

Lori did a lovely introduction and spoke about the desperate state education is in at the moment with the emphasis on facts rather than learning and the closure and degradation of our schools.

Geramine took up a similar theme.
She talked a lot about women as educators and the natural tendency we have to teach, a trait that far fewer men enjoy.
She sees the male management of education as the root of many of our problems because, as she put it, men train, they do not understand teaching, so the emphasis has moved away from teaching to training and the loss to our children and our whole society needs to be reversed.

For me this breakdown in the way we teach our children started with Thatcher, continued through the Blair years and is now the domain of our 'beloved leader', Ed Balls.

Throughout that time there have been many educationalists who have stood against the initiatives that have stultified our education system but it is so hard for their voices to be heard in this world where to speak against the degradation of education is to stand against the accepted paradigm - a very difficult thing to do.
It does not help that, having been in the forefront of educational research and progress in the early 80s, we are now, as a country, way behind. And because all the work we were doing was so thoroughly discredited it is so very, very hard now to claw back that progress.

We have a chance, with City of Leeds, to take a school and turn it around, not by forcing the national curriculum down the throats of children who clearly are not interested, but by teaching them how to learn for themselves and giving them the skills and motivation to take them into the future.

For 30 years our education system has been tied in the straight jacket of tests and statistics, there are not many of us left who remember the sheer joy of helping children learn because they want to learn. I just hope there are enough of us left to show those who know no different that Ed Balls' way is not the only way and far from the best way to teach our children.

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