More than grades

The purpose of education is in the summer news again as the primary head’s letter to her year six students is brought up again and Tony Little, head at Eton, states that “there is a great deal more to an effective and good education than jostling for position in a league table” This “great deal more” is essential in a proper education. The need to develop in students a moral purpose is at the centre of my educational approach, but to be able to do this means ensuring students have the building blocks of cultural, historical and analytical understanding in order to be able to formulate and support a positive mindset with the world and society around them. When this goes wrong, it doesn’t leave me.
As I crossed the sands yesterday on our family holiday, the unpleasant memory of a crime committed by one of my ex-students popped into my head. As teachers we are always reminded of our successes and failures and this one has a habit of emerging at unexpected times.
We inherited Charlie from his previous school and he was by this time at odds with mainstream provision. I spent some time in his first year with us collecting him from lessons or, more often than not, intercepting him as he ran around the corridors. He could not cope with expectations, but there was something quite engaging about Charlie and we did what we could. After a year in our support unit we took him and others on a cycling trip to show them what could be achieved. I remember laughing a lot and having fun as well as struggling up all the hills. Charlie succeeded, as we all did, and he left us to start a catering apprenticeship. I was very proud.
It was just last year that I heard of Charlie again. Having worked so hard as a school to engage him and show him success, it was a shock to see him in the papers, convicted of torturing someone and imprisoned.
Academic success is to be celebrated, but this situation sticks with me. As teachers we can not abdicate ourselves from what we produce.
We are not responsible for the crimes committed by others, but we can’t help questioning what we did and what we could have done better. If we only consider our success in terms of grades, then we abdicate our involvement in the Charlies, the Wests and the Himmlers.
At least that is what I believe good teachers should do. Not just chalk up results and think that’s it. Education is more than that.

3 thoughts on “More than grades

  1. Pingback: Education Panorama (September ’14) by @TeacherToolkit | @TeacherToolkit

  2. Pingback: Radicalisation | Principal's

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