Sunday 1 November, 12.30pm until 1.30pm, Lecture Theatre 2 Lunchtime Debates
The prevailing idea of a good teacher today seems to be a responsible person who ‘models good practice’ in private life as well as at work, acting as a ‘role model’ to children who would otherwise fall short or go off the rails in the face of the myriad temptations of modern British cities. (No drugs! No drink! No arguments!) This breaks with previous understandings of teachers as inspiring individuals, and even rebels with a cause to liberate the minds of the young from the dead weight of old ideas – a view captured in a film like Dead Poets Society or a play like Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. Socrates himself was charged with corrupting the young of Ancient Greece before he took the hemlock, but most of us still seem to think he was performing a useful public service. Recent disciplinary findings at the General Teaching Council, and the institutionalisation of Criminal Records Bureau checks, imply teachers must now focus as much on what type of characters they are as on what kind of lessons they deliver.
This all raises many interesting questions. Is a CRB certificate now more important that a PGCE? Should all teachers ‘suit up’ and model ‘good practice’ and ‘interpersonal relations’ to their students? Can a teacher be irresponsible in private but responsible at work? Indeed, should teachers even expect to have a division between their private and public lives when they do such an important job for society? Do the new ‘role model’ approaches work, or do they subtly impose a new conformity on teacher-student relations? And what does all this mean for the changing aim of education in modern Britain?
editor, Times Online education blog, School Gate; journalist and broadcaster.
deputy general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers; author, Subject To Change: new directions for the school curriculum
politics teacher and head of social science, Queen's School, Bushey; co-author, Who's Afraid Of The Easter Rising?
Dr Mark Taylor
vice principal, East London Science School; London convenor, IoI Education Forum
It may not constitute a grave threat to academic freedom, but the freedom of academics to get drunk in their own time is being curtailed at Cardiff University.A new policy that warns against drunken behaviour out of hours has led to complaints that managers are trying to impose a teetotal lifestyle on staff.Melanie Newman, Times Higher Education, 1 October 2009
The jailing of a teacher who had a lesbian affair with a 15-year-old girl is a victory for legalism rather than justice.Tim Black, spiked, 24 September 2009
It’s hard to get children to become feminists when the teachers aren’t feminists themselves, but there is a way forwardEllie Levenson, TES, 14 August 2009
GTC faces accusations that it’s extending its reach into teachers’ private livesDavid Marley, TES, 17 July 2009
There must be no place for prying in redefined GTC remit, she vowsDavid Marley, TES, 29 May 2009
A teacher, pupil and parent each express their viewsHester Lacey, Guardian, 11 November 2008
Daniel Rose examines the role and potential of the educator as a role-model within both formal and informal educationDaniel Rose, the encyclopedia of informal education, 2004