The rise and fall of teacher independence

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The rise and fall of teacher independence

Post by Guest » Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:27 am

I've tried installing anti-spyware from Microsoft's pages but I've still got the problem. However, debuggers don't seem to be able to stop me if I stay on the invincible RRF site, so here goes.

While we wait for developments from the parl. ed select committee, I just thought I would put a little more history down regarding why teachers (esp. the vital primary school ones) are pretty well as regimented as their Victorian counterparts. I'm using D. Wardle's "English Popular Education, 1780-1975" again.

With the 1902 Ed Act, the govt. became a major policy maker, and in the Handbook of Suggestions for Teachers of 1905 appeared the following encouragement to independence in the elementary teachers: "...each teacher shall think for himself [sic] and work out for himself such methods of teaching as may use his powers to the best advantage...Uniformity in details of not desirable...". The experiment and innovation, unfortunately, that most well-meaning teachers undertook were of the fashionable progressive type derived usually from Dewey and his followers, and we know where these led in terms of illiteracy figures at the first census in the Forces selection procedures for WW2. So, relative independence compared with their predecessors under the Revised Code, but without input from the lone pioneers in advanced phonics like Nellie Dale this was freedom only to deprive kids of earlier levels of literacy...if in an often enjoyable way.

Even after the govt. really started to dominate ed policy, following the 1944 Ed Act, schools and teachers still had relative freedom to choose curricula and teaching methods. But through the fifties socialist forces in the ed establishment and unions manoeuvred towards the totalitarian, "egalitarian", centralised ed system - for the people's children. The great return to teacher regimentation started when the Schools Council for the Curriculum and Examinations was founded, together with (lefty) teachers' centres. Despite the terms of reference of the first including the clause, "each school shall have the fullest possible measure of responsibility for its own work, with its own curriculum and teaching methods", the teachers (or rather, their unions) voluntarily surrendered their autonomy to their desire to gain status and a place in the formal power structure. As Wardle says, acceptance into high-level policy making bodies is "an excellent device for emasculating protest".

The prog-designed National Curriculum, NLS etc. and all the research, administrative and paper-producing apparatus have since descended upon the hapless state school teacher, who can only complain, despair and often quit under the pressure, having no inkling of the possibility of professional autonomy except perhaps the mocking ecoes in "Excellence and Enjoyment".


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