This was asked recently in a school library in Kuwait. It was asked by a Senior Teacher. She was addressing about twenty KS2 teachers. The question related to a marking policy. Each teacher had the same photocopied example.
“This is an example of what we expect,” she had mentioned earlier.
That she had given the teachers an opportunity to ask questions was conspicuous. At a previous meeting that week a teacher had asked a question without being first invited.
His question had been,
“Can we use the time to catch up with anything not completed during Literacy lessons?”
The question related to ‘Additional Literacy,’ given to KS2 pupils in the bottom two sets, ‘R’ and ‘Y’ in each year group. ‘R’ stands for ‘Red.’ ‘Y’ stands for ‘Yellow.’ Each year group in the primary school has four classes, ‘B,’ which stands for ‘Blue;’ ‘G,’ which stands for ‘Green;’ ‘R,’ which stands for ‘Red,’ and ‘Y,’ which stands for ‘Yellow.’ ‘B’ is the top class. ‘G’ is the next. ‘R’ is the next. ‘Y’ is the last, the lowest class in the year group.
Each child in the school knows where he or she stands. This is starting from Year 1, where he or she is about six years old.
About ten years ago in Istanbul, Turkey I attended a series of lectures, tutorials, discussion groups arranged to give expatriate teachers there an opportunity to update their knowledge of current Educational theory. One lecture I had to leave. This was after the lecturer showed diagrammatic representation of the human brain. I can be squeamish at times. Represented was the way the brain operates. There was a diagram representing millions of circuits, indicating our thought processes. Each brain has about the same number of circuits but their relative density is differently located according to thought processes undertaken.
This has been verified empirically according to the lecturer. There are ways of studying how the brain works.
“When Einstein died they dissected his brain and found circuits corresponding to his thought processes,” stated the lecturer, contributing to my squeamishness.
Some circuits were more utilised than others. This corresponded to different thought processes. Einstein like everybody else had a particular way of thinking.
“We think differently,” maintained the lecturer.
It was his contention that there are different types of intelligence. This is instead of different levels. Each brain has the same capacity but differently allocated.
He mentioned some of the different types. One was spatial. Some people are particularly intelligent in relation to space. They can find their way around more easily than other people. Another is in relation to movement. Some people are better coordinated than others. Athletes, sporting heroes are well represented in this group. Another type of intelligence relates to sound. Musicians are well represented in this group.
Each type of intelligence relates to a common mode of experience.
Intelligence basically is a response to experience. All intelligent life responds to experience. It is a different set of experiences that determines a particular type of intelligence.
Is one set of experiences more valuable than another?
At any rate we assign different levels of value. In schools we do so. Children as young as six are aware of the different levels of value being assigned. They are classified accordingly. They know what class they are in.
They do at this school in Kuwait. Those in the bottom two classes, ‘R’ and ‘Y’ do Additional Literacy rather than French.
“They need the Additional Literacy rather than French to make the most of their Educational opportunity at the school,” the Principal had justified to parents at a recent meeting in the basement.
The parents had been invited to find out more about their child’s prospect for the new academic year.
Teachers responsible for Additional Literacy are required to plan its undertaking. It is part of a larger undertaking. There is a larger plan, incorporating every subject. It is a detailed plan, incorporating every lesson. Each lesson has a learning objective and detailed means of achieving it. Detail relates to activity, resources, time allocation and differentiation, the latter referring to expected levels of achievement. Within each class there are different levels of expectation. These correspond to different levels of ability recognised.
This is levels of ability rather than types.
Teachers complain about the amount of planning they are required to undertake. Amongst themselves they admit to a pointless exercise. They don’t have the time or energy to refer to it effectively. It is a paper exercise required by their seniors in administration. Senior teachers require it to justify the school’s activity to inspectors. This particular school belongs to the British Schools in the Middle East (BSME), a body recently established to oversee standards in schools in the region claiming to follow at least partly the UK National Curriculum.
Despite denial by the school Principle it may be seen to parallel at least partly the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), the body established to oversee the National Curriculum in the UK. Teachers at the school in Kuwait can see a parallel despite a denial by the Principal, who at the end of the previous academic year invited expatriate teachers to a meeting in the basement. There he invited them in their year groups to put on paper the perceived successes and shortcomings of the previous academic year. Inclusion of shortcomings provided a balanced perspective on paper.
The teachers invited to the meeting were those due to return the following academic year. Those who had chosen to leave the school were not invited. Those who had chosen to return had their career at the school to consider when putting on paper their perception of the school’s performance.
They had the same consideration recently at meetings. There have been four meetings this week. This is in the morning before line up and registration of children. At the meetings the Senior Teachers make points of policy. Teachers listen and make notes.
At the one about Additional Literacy a teacher asked the question about whether time could be utilised to catch up with learning activity not completed during Literacy, the core lessons undertaken by every class, top to bottom, ‘B’ to ‘Y,’ who at the end of every unit are given the same assessment, a written examination to which grades are assigned and reported on, allowing every child to know where he or she stands.
The Senior teachers had demanded separate planning for the Additional Literacy component, dealing with more basic grammatical requirements deemed appropriate to the lower level children, differentiation more in keeping with that demanded by Ofsted and presumably more pleasing to a parallel organisation in the Middle East. It is rumoured that the school Principal has an ambition of becoming a BSME Inspector upon completing a proclaimed improvement of performance at his present place of employment. His duty then would be to tour schools following at least partly the UK National Curriculum in the Middle East and affirm how well they meet the required standards. In order to achieve this ambition he would need to demonstrate ability to meet the required standards in his present place of employment. This rumour is consistent with his endeavour to meet standards. It is consistent with the endeavour of his Senior teachers, including one confronted with a question as to whether a teacher could deviate from the plan decided upon in relation to Additional Literacy and use the time to catch up with uncompleted Literacy lessons, due to be assessed in a standardised manner across the year groups.
Later that day the teacher received an email from the Principal saying that such questions were inappropriate during more publicly attended meetings. They should be communicated more privately by email. Matters of school policy were decided upon by the Senior Management team. It was a teacher’s duty to implement that policy rather than question it in public.
News of the email caused consternation amongst teachers at the school. Maybe their allusion to a prescriptive stance reached the ears of Senior Teachers devoted to assisting the Principal’s ambition.
At the meeting merely a couple of days later about a standardised marking policy the KS2 Senior Teacher could be seen to modify the stance, maybe in anticipation of a BSME inspection. The modification was perceptibly another exercise confined effectively to paper. Once more the teachers being addressed had their career prospects at the school to consider.
At the end of the meeting when addressed they had no questions.
Article source: http://eslarticle.com/pub/career-development/6297-any-questions.html