March 29, 2006

OMG – 12 whole weeks without (very many) holidays!

How will they manage?!

Seriously, teachers in Victoria are facing a 12 week term, with only the Easter four day weekend; one other public holiday; and various “curriculum and planning days”, to break up the arduous torture of their overburdened working day lives.

You think I’m kidding? Think I’m being hysterical, just for effect? No, this is REAL.

Illness and fatigue” are expected to take a “punishing toll” on our teachers.

Fatigue? I hear you ask.

FATIGUE?! I hear you ask again.

A PUNISHING TOLL?!” I hear you screech into the black of the night, having stumbled home from work after midnight, tired, starving, and with three papers to write before morning, for someone being paid 10 times your salary, who won’t bother reading them – ever.

Once upon a time, school terms were 14 weeks apiece and no one died; teachers turned up; children turned up; the world spun, as normal, on its axis.

In these modern times, the second school term in Victoria would normally be a breezy little 10 weeks.

Assuming you completed your high school education a minimum of five years ago, you may have grasped the rudimentary elements of mathematics, and have possibly worked out, all on your own, that the second school term has, for this year only, been extended by an entire two weeks. That would be ten working days, or nine working days for the schools that manage to schedule a planning day for the last day of term, so that the school will be free of pesky children.

TEN DAYS?!” I hear you wail into your computer screen, thereby waking the neighbors, who call the police– not to report their dire concerns for your safety - but to complain about the jerk keeping them awake.

Yeerrrs, I think we’re all feeling something akin to an almighty binge of sympathy for teachers in Victoria right about now.

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Over at Nick & Nora’s place (The Thin Man Returns), Nora posted about her engagement with some folk on the topic of “teacher morale”, on the Courier Mail blog – read Nora’s comments in full, interspersed with her willing, but apparently unable debaters.

One particularly inspired commenter suggests that Queensland teachers are working in “third world conditions". While another – bless his little cotton socks – got all carried away with the automatic accolades and authority vested in anyone with a university degree, this being proffered as proof absolute of the capability of all teachers.

Nora takes mere moments to swat them down like so many drunken blow flies. Yet, one can’t help wish they’d been up to the task. One would have hoped that at least the would-be teacher, and those commenting upon the pedestal-stature of teachers, all of whom, we trust, have been taught themselves, could have lasted the distance, or at least made a decent fist of it. The chap who places such faith in the credentials of teachers obviously didn’t scroll to the earlier post directing readers to the piece about teacher entrance scores & the bottom of the barrel.

Let’s also not forget that education, and university degrees (and MBAs!), have long required the evaluation parameters of wine, as in: what year did you get it?” As well as "where did it (or the grapes) come from?"

Even back in my day (and that’s a while ago), a friend was doing her teaching degree, and I had the grave misfortune to be exposed to numerous of her essays during her final year of study. They were thrust upon me, much against my will. Suffice it to say, the only redeeming quality of the work was the disingenuous spelling, the imaginative grammar, and an autistic approach to addressing the essay topic. She became a teacher of high school students. She graduated well before I finished my studies, and I'd guess it must be 15 years ago. I shudder that standards had a place. somewhere deep and dark, somewhere much lower to go, but by all accounts they have, and 15 years is a long time to be in free fall, particularly coming off such a low baseline.

A funny little wag attempts to demolish one of Nora’s articulate and reasonable points on the past conditions of the class room and the zero causal link of such with learning outcomes.

Nora wrote:

"A question we may have to ask then is why students of the past, learning in classrooms that were completely air-conditioning-free, were able to leave school with a higher level literacy and numeracy standards today."

Apart from taking a fallacious ageist stab of utter irrelevance, another commenter jumps in with this as their opening gambit:

“Your question pines for an imaginary place in the past that never existed, apart from within your overactive imagination.”

Reading that response, and having read it a number of times, I must now ponder the question: is it humanly possible to imbue people with ignorance and stupidity?

In the past, logic would have had me baying “no”. Now I’m less sure.

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