When did teaching become so dishonest?

“You’re so brutal sometimes Miss.” That’s what one of my brightest and best students told me today. It’s true, I am. But it’s because, for students at the top of class, a good dose of honest feedback can push them to their limits without damaging their confidence. Tes reports. 

Of course, brutal honesty doesn’t work for every student and I am careful to only use it when it works in a student’s best interests. 

I’ve come to realise that once outside the classroom, teachers – and in particular leaders in education – seem to have often lost the ability to either be honest or to understand the function of honesty in adult relationships and the development of professional environments. 

A colleague was recently struck off from teaching for manipulating coursework outcomes through some quite farcical means. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident but simply an extreme result of the blame culture which has grown up around ever increasing pressures in education. 

The truth has become buried so deeply in organisational bullying or greyness that many teachers can no longer tell what is real. See for example, the brilliant anonymous article published on Tes a few days ago: “Not good enough: the words I can’t stop hearing.” Where senior leaders demand the impossible consistently and are themselves willing to twist and bend standards of academic honesty to achieve the expectations of others, sad stories like this become woven into the fabric of the school system. 

Honesty is a value that we expect our students to hold. In many schools it forms part of the code of conduct or mission statement. And yet the truth is routinely diluted – if not blithely disregarded – by the adults who insist on honesty in the children they teach.

Leadership seems to have fallen into a hall of two options: either extreme autocracy, where all dissent from the published truth (the school’s position is…) is heavily punished and a culture of fear prevails, or something approaching anarchy with everyone looking out for themselves.

Teachers and leaders should be role models and honesty is key to healthy formative relationships that improve the performance of everyone. 

Honest staffrooms create learning-led conversations where real outcomes are the priority, not the outcome which looks best from the outside. 

Honest leaders are valued for their clarity, and honest staff will enjoy their days doing what they love without fear.

Read the full article When did teaching become so dishonest?

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~Tamsin

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Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Too often teaching becomes a second, or third career choice and those people lack in essential qualities of carrying with them, on a daily basis, a belief in having moral responsibility to model, educate and develop better people. As they cannot find fulfilment in passion for education and love of transforming lives, they divert their energy into seeking job satisfaction in gaining power and exercising it too often for their own gains.

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