I think our education system is a failure... I don't know. Maybe it's just at my school. The recent reshuffle of English classes for Form One has been a nightmare. After 6 months of working on one set of extremely difficult kids, and settling into a manageable routine, midway through the year, they decided that students needed to be divided into sets.... based on their scores in a Diagnostic Test.
And so, I find myself back where I was in the beginning of the year, with more students and worse attitude problems. It's amazing what 6 months can do to impressionable kids. They can be really incorrigible. And this is where schools fail and we produce educational failures.
Marginal people think marginally. Marginal thoughts are seldom sensible. And so when you allow marginality to thrive, you get a lot of worse than marginal behaviour. Students holler to each other in class. They stand up and walk at whims and they don't do their work. When other students walk past, they hoot like monkeys. How did we allow them to get to this state?
We are told to use reasoning... they don't work long. Without fear, they don't last. Experts always argue that there is no one approach for all, no shoe fits all. Well, reasoning is also not the shoe that fits all. Some kids will climb over your head if you try to reason with them. And that's what I am getting with this last set of the form. And now that my own class has been infused by untrained elements from the other classes, I find myself staring at a hopeless cause. Should I just throw in the towel and let them rot? After all, I see most teachers doing that. It's fasting month now... in a while many of them would probably be busy focussing on selling bras to cookies in the staff room.
Last year I had the same thing happening to me. One teacher retired and they dumped all her bad classes on me.... unsettling me from my classes which I had been teaching for 4 months. A good head would have assumed the responsibilities herself... but these days, heads are seen mostly taking the easy stuff for themselves.... Another reason why we are producing educational failures.
At one meeting, one suggestion even came up that we make questions for school tests easier so that the students' marks will look better. With everything recorded online, such scores contribute to the general score which is used to rank a school. Try imagine what school heads would do.... to get their schools noticed so that they get noticed. And for PBS (the reason why we have different sets for English now), we are supposed to have a file labelled the 'Showcase File'. Bah humbug! This is where we put the evidence that tests students for placement in bands. Show off.... At the same time, we are told that all students must at least clear Band 3. Reality check! Not all students can get onto that Band 3 bandwagon. So how? What the bosses aren't saying out loud and clear is we must place them in those bands.... Cos all these contribute to the ranking of the school, I guess. Good ranking, they look better. You see, sadly, many heads take their positions as the launching pad to the next one. What many care about is basically the window dressing more than the reality.... Then again, maybe my perception is skewed and our education system is producing great students...
Educational failures, where getting somewhere is not about the hard work that is put in. It's about window dressing, knowing the right people, being the right race and so on. Oh ya! The ISO thing too. And how not.... Cos most of us are products of a failed system too. A failed system that implies apartheid is okay... and one that uses religion to sanction it.
But if one thinks one is immune because one is in the group that has the upper hand, well think again. Educational failures does not just mean they are academic failures. These are the ones who leave schools with no skills, safe for being disruptive and callous. They are going to contribute to rising crime rates. They are the ones who will contribute to social problems. We cannot afford to churn out educational failures. It's time to take a look and do right.