Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not dead...

Just resting. Working in a place I shall refer to only as "the Academy". Like Paris, Glasgow has large public housing estates on its periphery; desolate places of high unemployment and low expectations.

There, it goes without saying, the similarity between Glasgow and Paris ends.

Anyway, the Academy serves one of these areas.

We do "setting and streaming" at the Academy. On balance I'm kinda in favour of this - although it does have some problems. The most significant as far as I'm concerned is that it is actually impossible to "set" according to ability. Sets are made - can only be made - according to performance; it isn't a mechanism that can distinguish easily between those who perform badly because they are unable to do otherwise and those who are unwilling to do otherwise.

So you end up with sets that follow this general pattern:

1) Slightly mental.

2) Fairly mental.

3) Completely mental.

4) Too mental.

The justice in a situation where the not very intelligent have to put up with the really fucking annoying isn't always obvious to me, to say no more than that. It's a microcosm of the wider "debate" about more macro strategies such as selection according to ability or the use of vouchers. They are escape hatches; mechanisms to avoid group 4. Understandable - but education is compulsory and group 4 have to be taught somewhere and by someone. Those who advocate grand schemes for educational reform would merit more serious attention if they even pretended to be interested in these. But they don't - because they're not.

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