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We have a very similar problem here though not because of the funding (which is relatively sparse) but because of an entrenched philosophy of full inclusion. We also have severely disabled students in classes who yell and groan and scream all day to the extent other pupils can't hear. We have severely autistic and severely ADHD kids in mainstream classes causing absolute havoc to the education program of others in the class not to mention the teacher. We have now 0.5% of students in special schools whereas Europe and the UK has an average of 2.0% (even the Scandinavian counturies have about this %) and we are repeatedly told that this is because we are "better" than other countries.

It is a policy of absolute madness, but one that the union I head, can seem to do nothing to shift, as the community has been brainwashed to accept it, as have parents of disabled kids, and the bureaucracy of our DoE. Of course they deny it is cheaper, but it is. Our teachers would refuse a pay rise, if it was in order to solve this problem, but shifting ingrained philosophy which fits the budgetm, is very hard to do.

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Jean

I feel for you and the other teachers there. At least those that cause the most disruption in our classes are still in self contained classrooms. The young man I mentioned in my post yesterday was withdrawn from school today. The administration , with the approval of the parents, removed him as he was not going to graduate anyway because of failures . That should help my classroom considerably.

It is shameful that we are robbing a good education from those that want and can attain that goal for the sake of a few that will never be tax paying productive citizens because of political goals from politicians.

The biggest enemy of the classroom teacher in the state of Texas is the state legislature, a mixture of ranchers, lawyers, business men and women, who only meet in a legislative session every two years. They have little to no contact with the education system but have all kinds of ideas how to tweek the system to improve standardized scores while offering no more money to teachers or even the same benefits that the other empolyees of the state get, yet more paper work and additional time taken from the teachers personal time to complete the tasks assigned to the teacher.

We can not have teacher unions in Texas, so we have weak teacher organizations that have little effect on the legislature because there is no collective bargaining allowed and if the teachers strike they lose their teacher certificates.

:(:( Thank goodness I am getting towards retirement and feel I can handle the system for a few years.

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I have to say that I am not unpleased to be out of the classroom at this stage of my life, but I continue to feel great sympathy for those who have to be in difficult schools for some time to come.

Re the UK, I heard via TES that Ruth Kelly may be going to scrap the Tomlinson Report recommendations, which seemed to me to be an improvement on the present curriculum offerings. Is that true?

Also, I'm just in the process of reading a new book from the US titled The Promise and Failure of Progressive Education by Norman Dale Norris. It's very interesting and well worth a read.

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I've taught in private international schools for the last 30 years, so I've had a very sheltered life! I really can't say I've had any discipline problems apart from the usual spoilt little rich kids who refuse to do any work, and whose parents naturally believe that the school or the teacher is exclusively to blame...

Juan Carlos, who teaches in a Spanish public school, would be a better person to write about the general situation in Spain, but I get the impression that behavior here isn't that bad. There are the very occasional stories of bullying -- some of them absolutely sickeningly violent -- but none of the attacks on teachers and so on which seem to have become much more common in the UK since I left.

And this is despite of the facts that:

+ There are very high levels of youth unemployment

+ The curriculum is rigorously traditional in all its aspects

+ Teaching styles emphasize the memorization of lists

+ The examination system tends to penalize any sort of originality and rewards parrot-like memorization

Given this sort of system, you'd expect the behavior to be much worse. There's no attempt on the part of most teachers to "make learning relevant" or exciting. I suppose Spanish kids just **expect** school to be hard and boring and just put up with it...

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We can not have teacher unions in Texas, so we have weak teacher organizations that have little effect on the legislature because there is no collective bargaining allowed and if the teachers strike they lose their teacher certificates.

I had no idea that some countries (or in your case states) banned teachers from joining trade unions. This is a basic fundamental right in a democratic society. If our government ever tried to impose such a thing, I am confident that all members would immediately stop work. We all know clearly what happens in countries that ban trade unions (Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, China). If that is allowed to happen in Texas, I hate to think what will happen next.

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John it is already happening. Our state legislature is monkeying around with our retirement system. Texas is already number 42 out of fifty states in teacher benefits, pay and retirement. Now they are going to lower the payment amount to the teachers and increase the fully vested retirement age by five years. As over 60 % of the teachers in the state are reaching the retirement age, the state sees a problem with the retirement system, so they are going to cut the benefits in order to try to make the system solvent. The system management made some very poor investment decisions, like investing 30 million dollars into Enron stock and lost all of the teachers money and the state will not make it up, even though they made the bad investments.

There are 230,000 teachers in the state of Texas and even with that amount of political capitol, they have no power at the state capitol because we can not have collective bargaining or strike when we are railroaded by the state. I need to clarify my statement. We can join a union, and pay union dues, but the union has no power to bargain with the state on the behalf of the teachers, therefore no union members as the money is wasted.

Our state education system is divided up into 1400 independent school districts, each with their own elected school board, superintendent and support staff. Just in Bexar County where San Antonio, Texas is located there are seventeen independent school districts that set their own standards, both student and teacher. Each teacher receives a school district pay check that has nothing to do with the state except for some funding. You can imagine the problems with trying to have any type of a united front.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your input. It is rewarding and fun to learn about teachers in other countries.

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Yes, Jim, very interesting. Here in Australia the teachers union is one of the strongest in the country with the highest membership. That's because there is only one national union for all govt teachers which includes all senior staff and principals. Each state is a branch of the national union. Here in Tasmania we have 93% membership in schools and senior colleges, a bit less in vocational colleges of further education and as a result we are able to negotiate good deals with the state govt. Unfortunately, our newly re-elected federal govt (which will also gain control of the Senate in July) are neo-liberal, right wing bas***ds who intend to inflict their agenda of testing, exams, league tables, compulsory flagpoles etc - sorry to say it, but our stupid little PM is an worshipful follower of Bush.

However, each state can operate under a state agreement and we can refuse to obey their orders. This will probably result in them withdrawing federal funding this year, so we are going into a very interesting industrial scenario in the next 12 months. We are beginning to educate our members in civil disobedience and the possibility of illegal action, which may be necessary if we are to stand up against the rubbish they are promoting.

We had a speaker from the US at a conference I attended recently and the picture he painted of current American education under Bush is not one we want to emulate here. Australians are known for their strong unionism but our federal govt is trying to do to us what has happened with US unions. It will be interesting to see how strong our members are in the coming months.

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Just got up to read another teacher-bashing letter in our Sunday paper. Too many holidays, don't work like real people do, don't teach kids to spell, are "coddled" by their union. And no doubt there are lots of people reading their paper and nodding their heads in agreement.

One of the problems of disruoptive behaviour is that many of those who could do something to help, don't really believe the problem is as bad as "lazy" teachers make out. After all, it wasn't that bad in their day, so how can it be so much worse now? PMs and MPS come into schools and everything is made to look wonderful for them.

Maybe TeachersTV should film a real day in the life of a teacher and have it shown at prime time on commercial TV.

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Maybe TeachersTV should film a real day in the life of a teacher and have it shown at prime time on commercial TV.

I agree, but there is not much chance of that I'm afraid. Teachers TV is funded by the DFES - the same department which has just controversially run a series of adverts to recruit teachers suggesting that teaching keeps you young and wrinkle free :blink:

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Teacher bashing is a favorite passtime of our local TV news channels. They look for anything to tear down the profession, then in a typical hypocritical way give little gilded apples to the teacher of the month in our area.

If a custodian does something improper with a student, they are always labled as a teacher and that brings on more critisizm.

All teachers are considered lazy because of the summer vacation and holidays off, yet we are only paid for the 190 actual days of instruction. We are not paid for the 2 weeks of training and inservice all teachers in the state have to do and we are definately not paid for all of the extra hours each of us put in doing additional paperwork required by the state Texas Education Agency. Actual time in classroom instruction is being consumed by additional outside work, interuption by scores of office aids, administrators and parents dropping by the classroom and public address announcements.

Oh well. Today is Valentine Day, so Happy Valentine to all the teachers that read this. You should be recognized for all the good things you do and a big box of chocolate should be your reward and a big Thank You.

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Some interesting points. As a non-teacher and father of three (2 boys and a girl) who has worked in schools I have seen the problems faced by schools from a different perspective. The problem of behaviour derives from a lot of other issues, which are not being addressed because they are not seen as the problem.

They are in no particular order...

I believe behaviour in schools is worse than it was, simply because it now appears more disruptive to the central role of teaching - affecting all students. In the 80/90s, the disruption appeared more localized and work seemed to get done in the end. This was certainly true for the majority of students. Today's delinquency is almost continuous low-level disruption in addition to a small hardcore of more serious incidents.

The problem with modern schools is that they are too flexible and too in-tune to the needs/problems and demands of the students. How much running around do teachers do on behalf of the students these days. In my experience - far too much. They are at the beck-and-call of students and parents. Rules are all seen as negotiable, optional and without sanction.

Students now know that if they don't do the work - thanks to league tables and performance targets, it is the teachers who end up doing the running around (at least that's where the effort has been transferred to). They also know there are no real sanctions available to teachers - lines/detention/isolation/suspension and even expulsion are seen as a joke by most delinquents. Most students that cross this line are also aware they are highly likely to be returned to school on appeal after a 'nice little break'.

One of the biggest problems schools face is the lack of support from parents. In the schools I worked at, if a student was reprimanded by a teacher and perhaps sent out of the classroom, they would often use their mobile phones to call their parents - who in turn would call the school to either complain, attempt to excuse their child's actions or simply demand the sanctions be lifted. How about NO MOBILE PHONES! Then when they got stolen, teachers would not have to run round trying to find them...

Linking nicely to that. Set the rules and stick to them. Set out not only the rules, but the sanctions and the consequences of non-compliance for students and parents. Follow through. No negotiation. No argument. If you do/do not do this - this will happen. Boys especially seem to respond to this kind of specific language.

Promote personal responsibility over personal rites.

The other big problem schools face is its approach to boys. Most of who are 'switched-off' by the time they reach secondary school. These 'disenfranchised' boys are the main problem in modern education. Sanitized subject matter, non-competitive all-must-have-prizes philosophy and continuous assessment are dull to boys - in the extreme. Offer all students the choice of 'exam only' or 'continuous' assessment. Young males have no positive role models to aspire to. None. Many do not live with their fathers. Male primary school teachers are extremely rare. Media portrayal of men is appalling. Society's attitude to men is appalling. Who do these young boys look up to? Ali G and Eminem. They all go their own way - usually the wrong one. You can't marginalize an entire generation of boys and expect them to fall in to line.

Prioritise male role models (they don't even have to be teachers) in primary schools. Train teachers at all levels to deal more creatively with innocent 'boyish' behaviour as opposed to bad behaviour. Our current system is very intolerant of boys testing the limits - especially in early schooling. Boys need strong rules/guidelines and do not respond well to 'How do you think that made Jessica feel?' Boys and Girls are in fact different and should be treated as such.

Now the part teachers are not gonna like. Stand up for yourselves and the futures of children you are teaching. Don't allow your profession to be used as a political football anymore. Analogy - I see a bunch of teachers walking down a corridor, before they reach the end, in fact before they have taken 2 steps, they are told to go the other way. Before they have even managed to turn they are told to go back again. Result - nobody goes anywhere. Politics should have nothing to do with teaching, apart from budget allocation. As a profession say NO. No more bureaucracy, no more policy changes, no more curriculum changes, no more league tables. No more dumbing-down to achieve political targets. Continue with OFSTED, but provide support for failing schools - not the big stick.

Teachers spend too much time doing things other than teaching. All those additional things to earn an extra 1/2 point to bump up your salary. Turn them all over to pastoral support and let teachers - teach. All admin, exams, head of year, discipline - all done by none teachers - like the French do. At the same time increase the basic salary for teachers, dependent on experience and subject to achieving minimumresults over a sustained period - capped at around the Head of Dept level.

The above 2 paragraphs may not appear to have much to do with behaviour, but I think they do. If teachers don't have the time, energy or patience to do their job as well as they can this will be reflected, not only in the educational achievements of their students, but also the relationships they have with them and as a consequence, their characters, standards of behaviour and attitudes. The role of teachers as 'life-skills' role models appears to have been the biggest loss in choosing this 'frenzied rat-race production line' approach to modern education. The pressures on modern teachers are now so intolerable, most simply want to get through the day, and limp from one holiday to the next or just leave the profession. This is certainly true of a lot of my friends who are teachers.

Anyway, there is more…just a few thoughts to chew over.

Let me know what you think.

Steve

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I agree with most of what you say, but the big problem is how to fix it. Here in Australia, as in France, teachers are employed by the state and can be moved around within 65kms - this is a powerful weapon for keeping teachers in line. As is the intimidation of management and their potential effect on a successful career and promotion chances.

As president of our teachers' union, I constantly see teachers who would love to "rebel", and whom we encourage to do so when their situation is unjust and unfair, but when you have a partner, and/or a family, it is not so easy to stand together against the status quo. Teachers are bullied, threatened and emotionally blackmailed into putting up with a great deal of cr*p, put into place by people who will never have to be in the classroom, but have the power to impose on others.

Unless the bureaucrats are seen by their political masters to be "doing something" for their large salaries (ie constantly changing things) then they too are in trouble. This continuous cycle of imposed reform is an inevitable part of a bureaucratic system.

It is interesting that an earlier poster points out that in Spain, student expectations of education are different. (Perhaps religion plays a part here as it does in Italy also) I suspect the same is true in many Asian countries and in places such as Africa. When something is a privilege, not a right, it's amazing how much more valued it is. I can't see this aspect of our society changing much. We do pander to our students too much - that is a reflection of the society we have become.

And many more parents do not support the teacher and the school and are often worse than their offspring - again I don't see how this will get better in the short-term without a revolution.

It would be wonderful to be able to impose effective sanctions but society won't allow that either. Everyone has civil rights, including out of control 5 year olds.

Sorry to be so negative but I think we have let things go too far to get them back without some form of social revolution, or that there is a generational moral backflip like the Victorians after the previous century.

I try to be objective, and tell myself that there never was a "golden age" and that not everything was rosy in the past, but I still can't convince myself that the education and childhood I had in the 50s and 60s wasn't a whole lot better than today.

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PS Is it possible that in the UK there doesn't appear to be an increase because so many are moved into EBD and PRU units? Here we don't have any and the only ones not in mainstream are those in juvenile detention units having been committed for a serious crime. It's therefore fairly easy to tell whether numbers and levels have increased, and the consensus of our teachers (based on wide surveys) is that it definitely has.

Possibly but I also do think that there is a general tendency amongst teachers especially to believe that things are worse now than they have ever been. This has been going on for some time!

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for

authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place

of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their

households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They

contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties

at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

SOCRATES

"What is happening to our young

people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They

ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions.

Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?"

PLATO

:clapping

Andy is right on this one. I always tell my pupils to note the observations of people of my age, be aware that they were making precisely the same observations in the 1950s and make a decent effort not to make the same mistake when they are in their fifties and sixties!

I do not believe that things were better in the "good old days". Pupils at my older brother's school were subject to a "zero tolerance" policy and caned for minor infringements. Their behaviour did not improve but some developed masochist tendencies.

If anybody thinks this means I am soft on misbehaviour please spend five minutes in my classroom before you say anything so rash.

I do not have a "solution" to the problem of misbehaviour but those who advocate a tough approach are just covering up for the fact that they do not either.

Like any teacher I have "strategies" such as removing pupils who are too disruptive, trying to address their problems, give them more appropriate work etc. Pupils who are showing off by misbehaving are quite different it you get them away from their "audience".

I think the people in PRUs are heroes and heroines. If pupils need to be excluded from school then it makes sense to have somewhere for them to go.

The idea that the Tories will decree better behaviour in school and lo and behold it shall come to pass is just unlikely!

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But as I said somewhere else on this site in reference to those same quotes wich are regularly trotted out: All things are relative. What Plato and Socrates described as "wild" behaviour may bear little resemblance to what we think of as "wild" now. It all depends what you are comparing it with. Bad manners in their day may have amounted to speaking with your mouth full, not pushing old ladies down in the street and robbing them of their life savings. It's just as easy to trot out these quotes as it is for others to say that things are worse. They prove nothing. How many students were stabbed and murdered by other students in school 50 years ago? Now we're barely shocked by it.

I have been teaching, or closely involved with teaching, in the same state, for almost 40 years and I know without a doubt that the behaviour and attitudes of students have deteriorated in that time. I go back to the schools I taught in through the 70s and 80s quite regularly and the aggression, the disrespect, the constant low-level disruption simply wasn't there in the same way. Yes, there were a few "bad" kids but they were a samll minority and were dealt with either by sanction or removal into the workforce, Now neither of these options are available. And no one will ever convince me that so many parents were the way they are today, 30 years ago - rude, aggressive, unsupportive, gullible, indulgent, inconsistent and dishonest.

So, sorry, Derek. I don't agree with you. Yes, there are nice kids still, and nice schools, but they are becoming the minority instead of the norm.

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But as I said somewhere else on this site in reference to those same quotes wich are regularly trotted out: All things are relative. What Plato and Socrates described as "wild" behaviour may bear little resemblance to what we think of as "wild" now. It all depends what you are comparing it with. Bad manners in their day may have amounted to speaking with your mouth full, not pushing old ladies down in the street and robbing them of their life savings. It's just as easy to trot out these quotes as it is for others to say that things are worse. They prove nothing. How many students were stabbed and murdered by other students in school 50 years ago? Now we're barely shocked by it.

I have been teaching, or closely involved with teaching,  in the same state, for almost 40 years and I know without a doubt that the behaviour and attitudes of students have deteriorated in that time. I go back to the schools I taught in through the 70s and 80s quite regularly and the aggression, the disrespect, the constant low-level disruption simply wasn't there in the same way. Yes, there were a few "bad" kids but they were a samll minority and were dealt with either by sanction or removal into the workforce, Now neither of these options are available. And no one will ever convince me that so many parents were the way they are today, 30 years ago - rude, aggressive, unsupportive, gullible, indulgent, inconsistent and dishonest.

So, sorry, Derek. I don't agree with you.  Yes, there are nice kids still, and nice schools, but they are becoming the minority instead of the norm.

I think Jean is painting a picture that is far too bleak. The majority of children are just as they have always been. They do as always however rely on the service we provide them for their development.

What we see in our (UK's) inner cities where behavioural problems are marked is more likely the result of market forces being introduced in schools - in recent years we have witnessed the emergence of 'sink' failing schools, with severe staffing problems, negative labels to overcome, and a chronic lack of resources. Add to this the gamut of 'out of school factors' in inner cities- poverty, divorce etc. and we have created the conditions where behavioural problems born of alienation and frustration will inevitably emerge.

Horror stories from such schools are what our appalling press uses to create a moral panic about children being out of control. However I don't believe any of it is evidence that children and parents are "getting worse" in general terms.

It is also too easy to start disliking the young as we get older. Yesterday for instance I witnessed some awful old codger yelling at a group of teenage lads in my street that they shouldn't be there, and they were all hooligans, and that she was going to call the police. All they were doing was having a chat and disturbing nobody. This frightful old biddy represents the extreme end of a spectrum but I think there is danger that we all can get a bit like that with the passage of time. Teachers may be particularly vulnerable to this???

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