Education

Christine Gilbert, Ofsted, Bad Behavior in British Classrooms Has Experts Asking: Are Teachers Too Boring?

Bad Behavior in British Classrooms Has Experts Asking: Are Teachers Too Boring?

January 07, 2009 07:27 AM
by Cara McDonough
A British agency says it’s going to “crack down” on practices that aren’t stimulating enough for students, but teachers feel the criticism is unfair.

Not Enough Fun in the Classroom, Agency Says

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Christine Gilbert, a chief at British education inspection agency Ofsted, has said that disruption in the classroom often occurs when children are “bored and not motivated,” and that teachers need better instruction on how to motivate their students. She added that students in secondary schools often aren’t given assignments that are demanding enough.

People divorce teaching from behaviour. I think they are really, really linked and I think students behave much better if the teaching is good, they are engaged in what they are doing and it’s appropriate to them,” Gilbert said, reports the BBC.

She said that schools not only need to improve the quality of teaching but also need to introduce stronger management and head teachers, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Teaching unions, however, have not taken the comments well, according to the BBC. John Bangs, a representative with the National Union of Teachers, said that Gilbert’s comments were not presented in a realistic way and that teaching is the best that it has ever been.

Opinion & Analysis: The root of the problem

Oli de Botton, a former teacher and writer for The Guardian, writes that Ofsted’s declaration is not surprising, but that reprimanding teachers isn’t the answer.

“The solution, though, does not require a strategy or a clampdown or a ministerial decree. Instead the answer lies in giving teachers the space to be creative—and accepting that not all lessons go to plan,” he writes.

De Botton suggests that allowing teachers to be more flexible in their lesson plans and “letting them off the hook” when lessons don’t work would be a far more successful method for improving students’ behavior than the “cracking down” threatened by Olsted.

But English teacher Phil Beadle writes on The Guardian blog Mortarboard that Olsted chief Christine Gilbert’s comments are right on, and that the most successful teachers understand that they must be entertaining to grab students’ attention. He writes that the task of planning engaging lessons takes time, however, and “perhaps the focus should be less on top-down diktats, and more on reducing teacher workload, so that we have the time to engage, to excite and, yes, even to entertain.”

Perhaps there’s no need to get so worked up about a little boredom, as it may not be a bad thing, writes Tom Sutcliffe in his column for The Independent: “And what about a crucial lesson that everyone needs to learn before they’re released into the world of work? Quite a lot of life is boring—and it’s a useful skill to learn how to endure it.”

Related Topic: ‘Sexual bullying’ in the classroom

British teachers and teaching unions may have more to worry about than being boring, according to a new government report. Some 3,500 children were suspended for sexual misconduct in the 2006-2007 academic year, reports British newspaper The Times. The incidents included groping, using sexually insulting nicknames, and serious sexual attacks and affect both students and teachers.

According to the story, unions have been trying to bring more awareness to the issue for some time. “Responses from over 5,000 teachers demonstrated that women teachers are over three times as likely as male teachers to suffer from sexist abuse at work,” said Chris Keates, of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers.

Reference: Teaching guide

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