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Why does Richard Evans choose to vent his spleen on untrained teachers?

29 July 2014

1:51 PM

29 July 2014

1:51 PM

I knew that the historian Sir Richard Evans was a rather abrasive and quarrelsome man, but I was staggered by his vicious attack on Michael Gove in the Guardian last week. Here’s Evans’s first sentence: ‘Gove presided over the disintegration of our school system; he opened up teaching to untrained people in state schools, because he had contempt for professional educationalists. The restoration of professional teaching in our schools must now be an urgent priority.’ What? Those who follow these things will know that the two men have a history of exchanging insults, but how bizarre of Evans to vent his spleen on untrained teachers. Many great teachers are untrained enthusiasts for their subject, or people with a natural talent for working with children. But in any case teacher training is often painfully inadequate. I know whereof I speak because I myself am a qualified teacher. The only useful part of my course was the term spent as a student teacher, learning on the job — which is Gove’s preferred method. And by the way, Richard Evans teaches at a university — was he trained as a teacher?

This is an extract from Miriam Gross’s diary in this week’s Spectator.

 


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  • AQ42

    I have a teaching qualification that qualifies me to teach in universities. It was a complete waste of time.

  • Uppity Parent

    Teaching isn’t a profession. For the best teachers it’s a knack – like journalism – which can change lives for the better; for the worst it’s a con, a dodge, a way of exercising power over their pupils in perpetuity by ensuring that they grow up to be less middle class than they are.

  • Ooh!MePurse!

    I agree with Miriam whole heartedly. The standard of traning that I received for my PGCE was dreadful, it was more an attempt at political brainwashing. The only useful part of the course was being in a school under the guidance of an inspirational Head of Department (who wisely advised me to ignore what I had been force fed for the sake of getting professional status – apart from the commonsense bits of course).

  • Peter Stroud

    The vast majority of grammar school pupils were taught by ‘unqualified’ teachers: as were/are those at public schools. But the results they achieved were excellent. Teaching is a vocation, or at least it should be. A good degree, followed by some coaching, and much practice, will quickly result in either a good teacher, or a resignation.

    • Alexsandr

      why a degree? I dont see the link between academic study and being able to teach.
      I also dont see the link between being a good teacher and being able to be a headmaster.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        I think a degree is necessary if teaching an academic subject. Apart from anything else it is proof of a broad knowledge and expert skills. However, I agree that a state operated PGCE should not be a requirement.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Spot on.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Three cheers for hitting the nail firmly and unequivocally on the head. A piece of unionised paper is a waste of time, meaningless and adds nothing to the ability to teach.

  • GUBU

    Professor Evans once wrote that, as a historian, he did not indulge in the ‘luxury’ of moral judgment because, amongst other things, it was ‘arrogant and presumptuous’.

    Clearly, he has not applied this entirely sensible advice to his other writings.

    Quarrelsome? Abrasive? Sometimes. Pompous? Almost always.

    • HookesLaw

      Professors are calle professors because they teach at universities.
      Have they ever been through acourse to do that?
      Steven Hawking teaches – but has he had a teacher training course?

      The good professor spouts off because he is a leftie academic. Results are what count in a teacher.

      • Alexsandr

        leftie academic – tautology :-)

  • James S

    Let’s be honest, for Labour the real issue is not that teachers are trained or not, it is that they are Trades Union members, hence the need to send them through indoctrination of teacher training.

    • Daidragon

      You have to be in a trade union or spivs like George Osbourne and Gove try to nick your pensions, wages, status and employment rights. Having said that i think most teachers were Lib Dems up until Clegg betrayed them.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Oh you mean like Gordon Brown destroyed pension provision for private sector workers with changes to FII on dividends? We now have the disgraceful situation whereby the private sector workers are having to work longer to provide themselves with reasonable pensions while having to pay for the pensions of public sector workers who can retire considerably earlier. And no, public sector workers do not contribute to their own pensions because every penny of remuneration they receive is derived from taxation taken from private sector workers. Indeed, public sector workers do not pay tax they merely recycle private sector tax revenues.

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          I can see the point that you’re making but we do work for our pay and pension and, if we do our jobs properly, help to contribute to the economy and a civil society. I know it doesn’t always happen – hence my support for some element of performance related pay for teachers. I’m certainly not afraid of the idea!

          • Inverted Meniscus

            I have no doubt that a sensible, hardworking person like yourself earns his salary and deserves his pension. It does not however alter the fact that all public spending is financed by private sector tax revenues. It is simply impossible for the money to come from anywhere else. Borrowing, printing money etc all, in the final analysis, have to be paid for out of private sector tax receipts.

            • Ooh!MePurse!

              Yes,absolutely. I agree with you 100%. And I try to include that truism in my teaching whenever I can.

      • davidofkent

        Who is George Osbourne?

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Very true James.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “Why does Richard Evans choose to vent his spleen on untrained teachers?”

    Influenced by the New Left and Marcuse. One might ask “Why do bears crap in the woods”. Or, alternatively, “Why are Spectator writers so naive about what has been happening in Britain?”.

  • Daidragon

    Why wouldn’t you decry unqualified teachers. Tories have always despised state education. They wouldn’t care who taught most kids as long as they were cheap.

    • John Lea

      Nonsense. The best teacher I ever had was at university. The chap in question had never undertaken a teaching qualification in his life. What he did have was a degree from Cambridge, a first-class mind, and the ability to inspire others with his enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject. That should be enough in this day and age when many teachers, never mind pupils, struggle with basic literacy and numeracy.

      • Daidragon

        I would suggest that teaching highly motivated, graduate level adults is rather different to teens or even primary age kids. It is an important and noble profession and we must never let the Tories undermine this for political reasons.

        • Alexsandr

          tad 2 faced there…

        • GUBU

          Indeed. Best leave it to Labour, who have a much better record when it comes to undermining educational standards in this country.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Yes we should leave it to Labour to destroy the aspirations and education of children attending state schools. Failure and mediocrity are their specialities.

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          This government has rejected dumbed down qualifications and promoted achievement for children from all backgrounds. In particular schools must now show how they have used the tax payer funded pupil premium to close the gap between children from different economic backgrounds. They have also changed the rules on after school detentions, giving teachers more power to deal with disruptive behavior which has the potential to ruin other children’s education.

    • Holly

      As opposed to Labour’s ideal being, rather expensive, but cr@p?

    • HookesLaw

      Tories have not ‘always despised state education’ . The have never despised it.
      You are another one, just inventing fantasy.

    • ButcombeMan

      Fairly obviously, most people who vote Tory, went to State Schools. Your statement is ridiculous. It has no basis in fact.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        Agree completely. Daidragon might be one of those people on the left who imagine that ALL or even the majority of Conservative voters are rich, live in mansions and send their children to expensive public schools. It’s a silly, narrow minded and ignorant world view but many on the left believe it – just read many of the comments on Guardian CiF for proof.

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