PYRAMID OF LIES

Teaching is, superficially, the ideal job: a decent salary for working 200 days a year helping shape the country’s future. But most people express condolences upon learning I’m a teacher.

Adults realize that today’s adolescents are cocky, opinionated little darlings brimming with self-esteem, their attitudes nurtured by years of praise and being told they’re “special”.

Teaching certainly has it upside. I went out my way to get on well with my charges and am flattered that former pupils – many of them I recall as “ratbags” – approach me when I’m out and about to tell me how much they enjoyed my classes.

I have no fond memories of interactions with management, however. A colleague once observed: bad teachers choose to escape the classroom by moving into management where they are equally bad managers, seemingly taking delight in hassling those who continue to teach.

Some years ago I saw a teacher unwittingly commit professional suicide. This competent teacher made his living by relief teaching. The school offered him the opportunity of taking supposedly high-achieving classes for a term. Delighted at being offered a guaranteed income for a few months he jumped at the opportunity.

This conscientious but naive teacher awarded Ds and Fs to the bulk of the pupils because they failed to perform. Management intervened, adjusting the marks to achieve a more satisfactory distribution. The guy was not seen at the school again.

Novice teachers, unfamiliar with how the game is played, often make the same mistake. More experienced colleagues will intervene if they become aware of the situation, assisting with the generation of marks acceptable to management.

At the schools in which I’ve taught, pupils are typically “streamed” for ease of instruction, the more able in stream one, the average pupils in stream two and the least able and outstanding problem children in stream three.

The stream two pupils – the bulk of the school population – have apparently progressed through primary school without suffering consequences for failing to perform. This continues in high school, pupils advancing from year to year, many of them doing no work, ever.

Other than ringing parents, many of whom either can’t or won’t exert pressure on their children, high school teachers have precious few means of getting pupils to work. Punishing non-workers with recess or lunch detention is always an option but a teacher who detains children is also punishing himself. Regardless, punitive measures will not likely change a work ethic that has developed over a period of years.

Any teacher who grades honestly in awarding Ds and Fs to the large number of “average” high school students who deserve them will be targeted by management as a substandard performer even though the grades reflect achievement reality. This is because targeting a naïve teacher is much easier than trying to improve the performance of hundreds of pupils.

Any teacher hoping for a career in the pyramid of lies that is public education must learn to lie. That’s just the way it is.

7 thoughts on “PYRAMID OF LIES

  1. “bad teachers choose to escape the classroom by moving into management where they are equally bad managers, seemingly taking delight in hassling those who continue to teach.” There are those incompetents who rise the maximum level of the incompetence and sometimes they are sent “upstairs” so as to get rid of them, since they are causing so much damage in the schools. But there is another group in government bureaucracies that cause even more damage: the content-free managers. At least with an incompetent teacher one can have a discussion about teaching and children and soon. There were also some good teachers “upstairs” who new good practice when they saw it and would support it, however the new type of content-free managers come out of business schools. Business school promote the notion that management of educational systems is just management and one does not have to be an educator to manage, hence “content-free managers” whose only interest is climbing the promotions ladder and keeping clean record as s/he skips from one department to another every few years – usually before any damage done becomes evident. The other group are those with “equivalent” degrees who sneak into specialist departments or bureaucracies through the side door. They are generally climbers too and are risk-aversive. They may try to impose the theories they learned in their specialist area, e.g. social work, into education and be totally unaware and uninterested in the behavioural battle-ground of many school classrooms. They have no understanding that to educate one must first win control over students who are very astute at playing power games. Love will not find away when one is confronted, as I was on my first day of teaching at Doveton HS in 1977 in the gymnasium for PE with 45 stroppy and insolent year 9 lads. The lads, after about 25 minutes of me smiling at their insolent antics, decided I was a real bastard, but the sort of bastard they could trust. Thereafter I was able to educate them, but I’m a teacher. Nowadays teachers are required to be more social workers and behaviour control is a lost art and almost not acceptable.

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  2. JF, that was my experience at the District High School where I began my career; the Boss, who was regularly absent on”PD” two or three days a week told me that there would be no “D”s, so my best kids (who would, mostly, have been “B/ C”s at the school where I work now) became “A”s.
    Where I teach now has a large and increasing body of parents who have high expectations for their kids and tend to support the school in terms of behaviour management, but I have taught at “Fort Apache” schools where this is not the case, and it’s soul destroying for the weak, and hard work for the strong.
    My experience over 30 years service is that most School Admins are pretty ordinary; classroom escapees, members of the girls wanking-circle promoted beyond their capability, ambitious, sociopathic fuckwits and pathological liars who’d stomp on their Grandmother’s heads to get a promotion, and, the occasional outstanding person.
    Regardless of the quality of the Admin, and even regardless of parental aspirations, we, in schools, are picking up the tab for the legion Fatherless families. Only a fuckwit could fail to recognise the link between familial dysfunction and poor educational achievement. Mum and Dad may well want the best for their kid, but the kid is often the ammunition they use to hurt each other, and when the kid stops caring the negative behaviour starts, and this is further exacerbated because their head will be full of millinerial global catastrophism, black-armband, Marxist historicism, cultural relativism, and a sort of self-important nihilism and lack of hope that has been engendered by the pyramid of lies that has grown out of twenty years of self-esteem building and content-free Primary and Lower-Secondary education in WA.
    Give me the ability to use the cane and I’d reduce the amount of ADHD in my school by half in a month.

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  3. There are clearly children with developmental conditions such as ADHD and so on, but those conditions should never be an excuse for anti-social behaviour. Unfortunately developmental conditions are being used as excuses for unacceptable behaviour all the time nowadays, e.g. the father who claimed that autism caused his teenage son [who also had a moderate intellectual impairment] to grope the breasts of female teachers at a special school. [What crap!] It is possible to differentiate between an innate developmental condition and a child’s learned manipulative behaviour, but the SJW types and lazy or greedy or incompetent parents are increasingly pathologising the behaviour of children. Such focusing on a presumed pathology offers an excuse to the parents for doing nothing and may also bring them sympathy from gullible acquaintances who believe that the child’s condition is is the whole problem. On the other hand the SJW types can then offer tea and sympathy and therapeutic interventions to treat/cure/remediate/fix the condition, usually at great expense. It’s a great little earner! [I have a particular interest in this issue as I am autistic, but was taught, like the wonderful Dr Temple Grandin from the US, manners by a very strict ex-military officer father and an equally strict and proper Engish mother. Thus I learned to behave correctly in society.]

    After 40+ years working with severely behaviourally disturbed children and adults it is my clinical opinion that the majority of issues are behavioural, not developmental. Thus I do sympathise with the last line of Pete of Freo’s post, though I cannot recommend corporal punishment – I saw the very severe and dangerous effect of such treatment in the old institutions. It made the inmates very dangerous and, frankly, we cannot teach a correct skill/behaviour by punishing an incorrect behaviour. That does mean I am easy on difficult students as a smart young autistic lad found out a couple of years ago. He refused to do any work and was often very dangerous and gross, e.g. drinking his own urine from the toilet bowl to get an upset reaction. He was given a work sheet to do. We knew he would not do it the first day, the second day and so on, but after three weeks sitting at his desk without any escape and nothing else to do, save two brief toilet breaks under supervision and eating snack and lunch at his desk, he finally did the work sheet and learned obedience. However his parents were on side and desperate as were the school staff. He now is an excellent student, but he had to learn obedience first. However the teaching of obedience is now seen by the SJWs as contrary to civil rights.

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  4. Thanks, NTSOG. In my experience, some parents look for external factors, that is, factors other than parenting, to blame for their children’s behaviour problems. I once “taught” a year 10 boy who was a classic asshole. He was argumentative, loved to call out, swore incessantly, refused to stay seated, repeatedly climbed into the oversize deep-sink at the rear of the room, hid in the cupboards underneath the sink, bullied weaker students, walked out whenever he felt like it and so on. He was, of course, diagnosed as ADHD. Part way through the year, his mother, a sole parent, realised that there could be stigma attached to ADHD so she took him to an unqualified local “expert” who diagnosed dyslexia and dyspraxia. This new diagnosis required that I provide any worksheets on green paper because he supposedly couldn’t cope with print on white paper – this although he had not been “diagnosed” by an Irlen “expert”.

    It’s all bullshit. The asshole’s real problem was that he was right on top mum.

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  5. HI JF Beck. As a matter of interest in my “rounds” to many schools over the years as a behaviour consultant I have encountered nearly a dozen autistic adults: teachers, a therapist and one psychologist. [There will be more autistics out there.] All are highly functional people and all have a background in families and their own schools that might be characterised as highly structured to the point of old style. One man, now a Principal, told me he grew up in a large country town in which there were two high schools. One was run in a “modern” trendy laissez faire style, while the other had an old style directive principal. This autistic teacher told me that he, fortunately, went to the old style school – he would not have prospered in the trendy school. The school psychologist went to a Catholic girls’ school and I went to Melbourne Grammar when it was “military” in style – thank God! Some children are different and may require some therapeutic assistance, but they still must learn manners. Being different does not excuse being rude and bad mannered, but the pathologisation of human behaviour continues nowadays so that any behaviour is now blamed on the innate difference and the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual continues to grow with more and more patterns of behaviour being included as “pathologies”. Witness ODD. I consider such children just to be very, very, very naughty and, as you have stated, the real problem is that they are right on top of their parents and their gullible schools.

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