Showing posts with label social system. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social system. Show all posts

Monday, September 14, 2009

The need for sociable behaviour

Should unsociable behaviour be accepted in our schools?

I suppose this is the question that arises when we consider the role of schools in the community. Is it the primary role of schools to teach curriculum, do schools have a responsibility to teach children the limits imposed on citizens post-childhood or is it primarily the role of parents?

The Curriculum framework and its values places the answer firmly, for better or worse, with schools teaching sociability, with some parents unable to fulfil this role for many reasons. If a child comes socially ill-equipped for school, then it is up to the school to enable the child.

The statement, "this is the home environment mimicked at school " and "he only reacts this way until he knows a teacher" I don't really accept. To swear at the wrong person outside school or threaten violence with little provocation is to invite violence or incarceration in return. To condone such behaviour in school is to ill-equip these children for their time post school. A teacher is the token of authority in a school and all teachers deserve the same respect, whether known to the student or not, in the same way a policeman or judge is given the same respect in the real world. The alternative is to bring the justice system into schools - something to resist as it is a downward spiral or students to continue challenging authority in later life with dire consequences.

With declining community values, the acceptance of swearing and abusive language around (if not at) teachers, the abundance of emotional bullying by students of peers, the lack of effective strategies to deal with such bullying and the deferral of action until critical incidents occur is not teaching these kids respect for authority (in fact it is diminishing it), improving respect for others or ultimately creating respect for themselves.

I suppose it comes back to the niceness aspect of social interaction and the drift of community away from respect of the nice and considerate person to the glamorisation of the abusive idiot. Hopefully the pendulum will again swing back soon.

Sooner than later - as the perception that state schools have a bullying problem and an inability to deal effectively with students with social issues scares many parents away from our sector.

It is worrying.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A different model for success for state schools

Permanency has always been a key goal in state schools with teachers falling into permanent positions and then staying in the same school for 7-10 years, perhaps reaching long service leave and seeking a new school.

Stability, one would think, would be a key advantage over the private sector. I would suggest that it is the exact opposite. What tends to happen is that schools in adjacent suburbs function like teachers in classrooms. Many not knowing what is going on in the school/classroom next door.

Another key advantage would be the non competitive nature of schools is of a reasonable distribution of students, with students being part of catchments removing competition between state schools. In the private sector it is counterproductive to assist neighbour schools find talented students as they are potential customers. Yet in state schools we find it is common practice to poach students (and thus lower a school's potential results) either through systemic planning (eg. G&T schools) or through informal discussions with year 7 groups across catchments.

I think that increasing the rotation of teachers in schools within a district would solve this problem. Teachers would be attached to districts rather than schools and key teachers (level 3 CT's perhaps) used as troubleshooters for schools that cannot reach benchmarks. Benchmarks would be created for districts rather than schools. Funding would be linked to performance of the district with underperforming schools being given proven troubleshooters to improve performance (Think similar to the AFL draft!).

This would promote common frameworks to assist teachers with transitions between schools (the new system couldn't work without them). It would also lessen the poaching aspect as we could distribute students freely between schools in the same district knowing common teaching methods were being used and that school based performance was irrelevant.

By being district teachers rather than school staff, needs based movement could be made based on cohort size and specific needs of schools. I imagine this was the original idea of central staffing. To maintain consistency of approach, pastoral, teaching assistants and administration staff would remain school based but would need to agree on baseline standards. Consideration could be made on how HoD's and level 2's are distributed and moved and on what basis. Movement of HoDs and level 2's would give graduate teachers a wider exposure to teaching methods and promote exchange of ideas and resources between our expert teachers. Similar to the movement of principals in the metropolitan area.

It would require a change in mindset from 'development of a school' to 'development of students for a district' - seeking the betterment of the system rather than the betterment of a school. It's a philosophical change of mindset.

I like this idea. I doubt many others would.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Making schools a part of the social system

Many attribute social behaviours to treatment within schools.

Children under the age of 18 are arbitrarily required to attend school or seek gainful employment. Yet many of the children in our justice system are no longer attending school or seeking gainful employment.

Similarly, many children in schools are not students, but young adults actively being impediments to the learning of other students. They have little or no interest in schooling and have no interest in seeking gainful employment.

If students have no interest in schooling or are not in gainful employment I suggest that we strip them of their rights as children and call them adults... any illegal activities get tried as adults, protections given to children are removed and sentences roll into the adult system as they turn age. After all not in school, not acting like a child, demanding adult responsibility and treatment - grant their wish.

Similarly if a child is not contributing in school, not valuing their education, being an impediment to the learning of others (with no feasible solution available to get the child performing as a student) .. whoosh - out they go either into an alternate programme off campus or into the real world as an adult and lose their privileges as a child.

With one proviso - any government payments for children are instantly stripped if they stop attending school and adult payments for these children are not available until they turn 21 if school is not finished (a very simple process that could be completely handled electronically). Exceptions would be handled on a case by case basis with very strict criteria after testing for learning disabilities and available environmental supports.

Whoa! I hear you say.. that's a bit radical... but nobody values what is given on a plate - only when there is a risk of loss is it valued. For schools to be a part of the social system, it needs to be recognised that schools cannot be held account for all social ills, they can though be a filter for recognising them and helping the borderline cases back into the mainstream. Stuffing extreme cases into an already taxed system and hoping all will be ok runs the risk of dragging many more real students down with it. Schools should be centres of learning filled with students and families that value education... not a young adult minding service.