Friday, February 29, 2008

Schools and Truth-Seeking Don't Mix

A friend who did a teacher-training course last year told me that plenty of the teachers she spoke to found the recruitment TV ads for teachers shockingly misleading and I've often wondered what would happen if school prospectuses were made to conform to an Advertising Standards code. Yep, I wonder how they'd accurately pitch the following story in amongst all those pretty pictures of teachers swirling in job satisfaction.

On yesterday's BBC Breakfast News, it was reported that approximately 50% of teachers admit to having been bullied by their pupils. This percentage is not repeated in the article here, but whatever the figure, the BBC investigators still assert that incidents are under-reported by heads.

Mick Brookes, the NAHT's general secretary has an explanation:

"I think we're quite right in asserting the under-reporting of these sorts of incidents because it's not the sort of thing that schools, and even teachers, will want to be shouting from the rooftops." "

Too right. It also seems perfectly possible that the same explanation could account for the fact that so many schools claim not to have a significant pupil to pupil bullying problem when this is so clearly not the case.

Hm. Put all that in your prospectus if you can.


Raquel said...

Speaking of the prospectus , I was looking at websites of local schools..just for fun! (I know I'm weird) And one school had it's *Behaviour Management Policy* on the first 2 pages. There was no "Hi welcome to our prospectus, our school is set in lovely grounds with happy children*..Nope instead, 2 pages of how they will manage your children and make them behave. Of course I was enticed and signed all my children up..NOT!

Carlotta said...

Tee hee. There's lots to say on that!

So even when schools decide to go for greater truthfulness, firstly, they can only express it as an aspiration, since it probably won't pan out that way in reality.

Actually, have just checked...this is exactly how our local secondary school manage their on-line prospectus...It consists almost entirely of how they would like to be rather than how they actually are! So whilst this is not factually untruthful, it is being quite extraordinarily economical with the truth and is devious in intent. It aims to create an untruthful impression.

This line is essentially extremely devious and a matter of false selling, imo - you'd never know from their prospectus that pupils get knifed there, can get their fix of high potency cannibis, E, heroin, and alcohol, can mix with drug dealers, alcoholics and petty criminals, can get pushed downstairs, have their heads smashed against bathroom mirrors, and their fingers smashed in doors for the crime of being pretty...cripes I almost don't blame the prospectus's depressing writing this stuff down here.

Secondly, your school has to admit that they have to go about "managing behaviour". As you good is that likely to be? Of course, it is likely to mean that they have to be horribly coercive...which of course is NOT good, given that one explains coercion as being in the state of being forced to enact a theory that is not active in the mind, which is bad because this state reduces the capacity to think rationally and creatively.

Coercion is, of course, the best one can manage when you have a bunch of reluctant conscripts on your hands.

There are far fewew reluctant conscripts in HE so they can get familiar with thinking freely and honestly about whether something is genuinely good or bad.