The only way to address the world’s problems is through good education.
As a probationary teacher I set about taking on the hierarchy of the school and changing the beast that was the current school. It was poor and not meeting the needs of all of its students. I wanted a revolution. You don’t have to be in senior management to have a power base to promote positive change. I fought for change and managed to bring in a number of improvements. However, after twenty years of influential input from a lowly position, I realised that the best way of changing the system was to do it from the top and seized my opportunity to move into senior management.
I did things my way. I did not follow the rules. I was the sand in the Vaseline. The senior team found me a major problem. I refused to compromise. I did it the way I felt was right for the students and my own philosophy. And this method was highly successful. In the whole of my time in teaching I did not have a single report or inspection putting me below excellent. On the school’s first Ofsted inspection, in which it achieved ‘Satisfactory’, all my areas were Outstanding. Over the next three Ofsted inspections, two as Deputy Head and one as Head, all my areas of responsibility were deemed ‘Outstanding’. Being a maverick, and not following the rules, does not necessarily mean you cannot gain recognition. Risk taking is a big part of the game. Covering your back is a weakness and a flaw. Doing what is right, even in defiance of the orders from above, is an imperative. You have to follow your conscience.
Duke Ellington supposedly said that there were only two kinds of music: good and bad. The same is true of education. Bad education is destructive to minds, spirits and society. It should be banished even when it produces perceived results. My own maths teacher in secondary school always achieved a 100% pass rate with his classes. I passed maths from his class. Yet nobody was more successful at destroying a subject. To a man we came out of there hating Maths.
I have always questioned the education system. It seems crazy to put people together grouped by age. That never happens in normal social interaction. This is asking for trouble, particularly during teenage years when hormones are rampant and brains are melting and becoming rewired. It reinforces lots of negative behaviour patterns. It is almost as bad as grouping people according to ability, but not quite. I think we need to bring our best minds to bear to find a better way forward.
The present Tory Government of 2014 is bereft of ideas. What is proposed, a plunge back to the dark days of the 1950s emotionally challenged society, would be a disaster. We have to come up with something better than that. We have a wealth of psychology and sociology to fall back on. Politicians have the wrong agendas. They are ruled by their own political dogma. They always make a mess of it.