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Lessons to learn

This post was originally published on 28th August 2015 on Labour Teachers and can be viewed here.

Keiron Cunningham is perhaps the greatest hooker to have ever played the sport of rugby league, and how he coaches his former club St Helens. On Thursday they were on the telly and in the pre game build up it showed some of his comments about his team in the previous few weeks. The team have been on a poor run of form recently and in the press he has publically chastised them. Much of the build up was focused around whether this was the best was to improve the performance or if the effect would be detrimental on performance.

This made me think about the rhetoric we have seen in education from the government in recent years, and what potential effects they might have. There has been a range insults thrown towards the profession. They language of war has been prevalent in the majority of speeches and the effect has been to lower morale – something the sky sports commentators feared Cunninghams comments may do to the St Helens team.

I saw Mick Waters speak recently on the subject of government rhetoric and he was in agreement that the use of military language and the constant blows (“enemies of promise”, “dealers in despair” etc) do nothing positive for the profession. Teachers are left feeling threatened and under pressure. Surely a better tactic would be to focus on positives and target the criticisms in a much more constructive and supportive way.

Yes, there are plenty of schools and teachers that need to improve, we all should be striving to improve day on day because we can all be better than we are, but battering the profession verbally does nothing for morale and nothing for retention rates. Let’s hope the new year brings a new philosophy.

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Categories: Maths
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