Monday, August 31, 2009

The inexhaustible negativity of the teaching unions

There was a report in the Guardian today about plans to set up a new generation of technical schools.

I am instinctively in favour of this move, because it suggests a recognition that different children and young people have different needs and interests, but what really struck me was the comments of the National Union of Teachers head of education.

John Bangs said:

"I just hope they are not a precursor to introducing selection at 14. Baker has an undoubted interest in the needs of kids whom he believes ought to be involved in some kind of occupational work and training. But I think everyone has to be careful we don't entrench the classic vocational and academic divide.

"There is a concern that they will be pigeonholing students far too early All kids need to know how to use and apply and problem solve, and not just some kids. … If country is going to be rally really successful then using and applying knowledge is where it should be at."

This is just one example, of course, but the teaching unions seemed to be instinctively opposed to every new development in education. I am tempted to call it adolescent nihilism, but all too often they resemble a tired five-year old. "No. No. No."

This leaves them in the paradoxical position of believing that every educational measure introduced in the last 10, 20 or 30 years has been a mistake, yet the system is now at such a peak of perfection that any change to it must be opposed.