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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Professional Wednesday

Oh dear!


Our day for being told to find out how to be better teachers.

Note the wording of the sentence above.  We are supposed to find out our own weaknesses and improve them.  It's called enquiry based learning.  I call it an almost complete waste of time.

Today is the final day (or maybe semi-final day, I'm not sure, I never paid that much attention)and our pet Hobbit is going to do a presentation on the importance and power of voice projection.

The correct use of voice is an essential tool in the teacher's armoury.  It can cajole, support, threaten, gently admonish, praise, direct, gain attention and even on one occasion, plead.  So today's presentation might even be sufficiently interesting to keep me awake.  There's also a book being run on how long he can keep this presentation going. I've heard the smart money is going on 25 minutes, with one optimist trying 40 minutes.  The longer the better, so the rest of us won't be asked to make our contribution, and we can quietly vegetate in the back row.
The intrinsic problem with this enquiry based learning is human nature.  How can you identify your own weakness and fix it.  We humans tend to boast of our strengths, not our weaknesses, and it is difficult to be sufficiently reflective to pick up your own mistakes.
Hobbit for example is talking about voice.  He's a f*cking drama teacher for goodness sake, and an actor.  I cannot see him having voice as a weakness, or if it is, then he's a bloody awful drama teacher.

We used to get lectured on new developments introduced from the educationalists in their ivory towers of academe, long separated from the rigours (and oft-time pleasures) of teaching at the chalkface.  They did talk crap, but there was often sufficient material presented that the occasional technique or approach could be found useful.

What I really object about, get increasingly furious about is the obligatory participation.  Look, if you want me to add something to my teaching, (although I just don't seem to have any problems in my classes and I've got a high pass rate) then tell me or just f*ck off. I don't want to participate.

It reminds me of a Ben Elton sketch from years ago. He was complaining against performers who get members of the audience to participate in their show.

When asked to get up on the stage the punter replies, " No, f*ck off, I've paid, entertain me. Do I ask you to come down where I work and polish my lathe..." 

Ah well, only 32 days to Christmas, where I can relax under the blue summer sky, fire up the barbie and consume vast amounts of steaks, fruit and alcohol (not necessarily in that order) . Even after almost 8 years down here, there's something just plain wrong about having Christmas outside in the summer.  It still beats the hell out of freezing your nuts off in the normal arctic Scottish winters.  Still feels wrong though.

Nice, but still feels wrong.

Nope, still wrong
Still wrong, but it sort of grows on one. (These are Pohutukawa trees, Kiwi icons of Christmas)


  1. TSB is that not like trying to tell you how to suck eggs? For many I fear its too late. Just enjoy your audio books, he he he.
    Schools I work in have ceased their PD sessions for the year now
    as they realise there is time needed topaln fo rnext year.

  2. "When asked to get up on the stage the punter replies, "No, f*ck off, I've paid, entertain me. Do I ask you to come down where I work and polish my lathe...""
    I love this! It's the best reply ever!

  3. VG: It wasn't too bad. I hidan ebook reder behind a magazine and hada lovely read.

    Richard[of RBB]: Thank you, I loved it too, the first time I heard it back in the 80s.

  4. I don't think I could get used to having Christmas in the summer. Wasn't the original pagan purpose of yule to get people through the dark time of the winter solstice? You have your Christmas when the days are long, so you need a corresponding holiday in June.

  5. Patience_Crabstick: I agree with you, we do need a special holiday in June. We could call it someting catchy. Like
    Bugger the Winter Day
    Where's the bloody Sun gone Day
    or if we want to be honest and accurate
    Let's all get completely pissed Day

  6. I've experienced 59 summer Christmas days and know no different. I remember, as a kid, lots of shops had artificial snow (cotton wool) in their windows. For me the words 'Christmas' and 'barbeque' go together.

  7. ...and "You'll never be a kiwi until you love our Watties' sauce."

  8. Homer, friend of Looby24 November 2011 at 10:03

    Many sympathies. We have a new Head who is determined to raise our teaching from Ofsted-determined "satisfactory" to "outstanding"* but won't tell us WHAT THE FUCK TO DO DIFFERENTLY. In our last staff meeting, I kid you not, he played us a scene from the Lion King to try to motivate us into "learning from the past" and presumably "taking our place in the Circle of Life."

    * How we get such good results if our teaching really is so mediocre is an unaddressed question.

  9. I always have thought that measuring teacher performance was much too ambiguous to be useful. I found that my best teachers seemed to give a shit about me and were nice to me. There really wasn't any other secret.

    When I went to Scotland long ago I thought it was uncommonly beautiful. I think I would have stayed if it had been possible although I did not like the food very much.

  10. Richard[of RBB]:I'm getting used to the idea of a Christmas barbeque, but it'll probably seem strange for the rest of my life in NZ. I like Wattie's Tomato Ketchup, as long as it's not smeared on a cheerio.

    Hail Homer, friend of looby, and well met. Your new Head seems to follow the Ringo method of pedagogy. "Just do it better, and don't annoy the kids." and "don't involve me, it's too much trouble"

    I *shudders when thinks of next statement* really do love teaching. Watching the kids turn into young adults, watching them suddenly understand a subtle concept you've been trying to teach them for weeks, the humour, friendliness, the basic goodness in almost all of them.
    Mind you, the few completely unrepentant evil bastards do put rather a strain on our sanity and temper.

    At least you got the bloody Lion King.
    Over here our very own Minister of Education addressed a meeting of our professional organisation with an excerpt from "The short and incredibly happy life of Riley", a children's story whose moral was “you have to be happy with a lot less” *chunders into nearest bucket*

    Anyway, you have my deepest commiserations.
    Next time tell him that you're a f*cking Hyena, and the next time he makes ANY mistake you're going to rip his throat out, so preserving the law of nature and the survival of the fittest.
    Make sure there are no witnesses and watch him slowly go insane.

    Laoch of Chicago; Welcome back you nice lawyer person you. Yep, you've hit the nail on the head. Actually liking the kids and wanting them to succeed should be a prerequisite for ALL teachers. Unfortunately it doesn't always happen, and I know of a few who should really take up another occupation. Something more suited to their intrinsic natures. Something like interrogators in Guantanamo Bay, or abattoir workers or even working for the IRD (IRS in the USofA)

    Scotland is very beautiful, and I sometimes miss it. But our scenery down here in NZ is even better, the weather's better, and the food is infinitely better (as is the coffee). I must admit to missing Haggis, Potato scones, Scotch Pies, Ice Cream in an Oyster, real Heinz Tomato Soup, Glasgow Morning Rolls, Real Black Pudding, Rowies, Mother's Pride Plain Loaf, Soda Scones and Steak and Kidney Pies fresh from the chippie Deep Fat Fryer. Though I must admit, most of the foodstuffs would be an aquired taste, like Irn Bru.


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