Sunday 30 October, 4.45pm until 6.15pm, Henry Moore Gallery
The Conservative-led coalition white paper on ‘the importance of teaching’ appears to have gone back to basics on behaviour in schools. The army has even been called in with the Troops to Teachers proposal for ex-soldiers to go into failing schools. But most teachers are already familiar with ‘behaviour management strategies’ (aka, ‘getting the buggers to behave’) and parents know all about the ‘naughty step’ from TV programmes. So is the hard line on behaviour a step too far by the new government? Or, as David Starkey claimed in the Channel 4 programme Jamie’s Dream School earlier this year, is behaviour so bad even the best teachers can’t deal with it unless they become ‘like lion tamers dealing with savage beasts’.
Meanwhile, many school-age children were involved in the riots in London and other English cities in August, leading many to lament a more general collapse of adult authorty. Every day, schools receive complaints from shop owners and bus drivers about the general rowdiness and rudeness of schoolchildren, so at least one hardline comprehensive (the Mossbourne Academy in Hackney) has banned its children from entering local shops at all. So, as a BBC Panorama programme ‘Classroom Warriors’ hinted earlier this year, will the army make the difference for a generation of softies who do not know what it means to be disciplined? After all, a recent study showed ex-soldiers made a difference in New York schools, and British comprehensives with cadet squads claim to be showing improvement in exam results as well. So why not roll it out across the country as an example of what the Big Society really means?
So do teachers – and parents, passers by and the general public – all need the back-up of the army to deal with this problem inside and outside the classroom? Can we all learn a lesson in discipline from the one section of society that really knows about authority and how to do it? Or is this a step too far away from education in the drive to sort out the basics of civility? Should schools focus on teaching, and make that the basis of discipline rather than seeing it as an entirely separate problem? Do we really need the army to do a job on the yobs - or are British kids really just ‘being themselves’ and not misbehaving at all?
head of violence and extremism programme, Demos; author, The New Face of Digital Populism and Inside the English Defence League
managing director, The Curriculum Centre; author, Skills and Knowledge in the English Curriculum (forthcoming)
deputy editor, Times Educational Supplement (TES)
|Dr Mark Taylor|
assistant head of school, Addey and Stanhope comprehensive school; London convenor, IoI Education Forum
head of social science and deputy head, sixth form, Queens' School, Bushey; IoI Education Forum; founder, Fans for Freedom
Radicalism then and now: the legacy of 1968 - Simon Fanshawe
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