Stop blaming teachers

It’s my own fault that I’m sat here typing this, I know I shouldn’t ever read anything by Amanda Platell because she’s just a typically simplistic Daily Mail writer to whom everything is easily explained away with a few right-wing cliches. She starts with Jamie Oliver’s Dream School and explains that all of the kids behaved badly because they are the ‘the victims of the liberal educationalists whose obsession with ‘child-centred -learning’ has destroyed their futures’.

Like most right-wing journalists she considers this to be an absolute truth and therefore feels no need to provide any evidence or indeed explanation as to how exactly this is the case. It never seems to occur to people like Platell that child-centred-learning was created to tackle ongoing attainment problems in schools, not to create them. The education system has always failed a certain amount of children – the only real debate has been whom to blame, the school or the parents. Teaching methods have evolved (for the better in my opinion) but better teaching is only half of the problem: you cannot teach when the class does not want to learn and makes teaching impossible.

Platell kind of addresses this point, but only in a typically tabloid-shallow way:

they respect no one and nothing.

They know no boundaries, because no teacher or parent has ever tried to impose them.

I get incredibly frustrated when teachers are accused – as a homogeneous group – as never having tried to impose discipline in the classroom. Not all teachers have great classroom management skills (it is something that is difficult to learn during teacher training), some teachers are not great at setting boundaries and sticking to them and some teachers are overly aggressive which creates just as many problems as being overly lenient. Managing a classroom is a balancing act, especially when you have 30 students of differing abilities, attitudes and backgrounds all vying for different kinds of attention. Remember, you might have started teaching because you had a passion for your subject that you wanted to impart to others, not because you wanted to win constant battles with varied groups of students. However, all schools have clear rules which are enforced as much as realistically possible, but given that you cannot use force to make children comply there will always be occasions when it is impossible to control a child who does not want to behave. The accusation that no teachers have ever tried to impose boundaries is not just utterly wrong, but insulting.

From a sociological point of view it is the role of parents to instill basic social skills into children. Functionalism suggests that every human being is a mere resource that is raised to perform a certain function in society. The school is the institution which divides the children into different sets based on ability which directs them into different job roles in adult life, it is also the place where children learn to obey those in authority without question – it is the first situation in which children learn that the many should always obey the few in power. However, the schools cannot perform this function unless the child has already learnt basic socialisation skills from its family and immediate peers. It is these role models that teach (or fail to teach) manners, respect and basic obedience – it is the parent’s role in a functionalist society. If a child is not taught these behaviours then they immediately encounter problems entering and functioning in a more social environment – and teachers for example have trouble controlling them – after all, if a child has no respect for their own parents / family, then what chance does a teacher responsible for 30 children in a classroom stand of instilling such behaviours in the child?

Behaviours are something we learn, they are not something we are born with. A child cannot be blamed for being raised in a family that fails to instill socially acceptable behaviours, anymore than a child can be blamed for being born into a family of extreme privilege. It is time to stop blaming the education system and realising that society as a whole needs to come to terms with an underclass of families who are trapped in vicious circles of bad parenting. You don’t give a chef a pile of rotting vegetables and expect them to make a Michelin star dish, but for some reason the right-wing press expects schools to take any given child and achieve the same positive outcomes. It’s impossible.

Anyway, I had never even meant to talk about that aspect of her drivel, I had wanted to talk about her little aside on multiculturalism. There is nothing more depressing than someone in the right-wing media repeating the lie that BNP support is driven by ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and the pressures this supposedly places on social services and employment. I’ve covered this before, so, having written the above I won’t repeat it here, so if you want a rebuttal of this, you can read it here.

Amanda Platell: Racist and Clueless

OK, let’s invoke Godwin’s Law straight away here and just state that Amanda Platell is sounding particularly like a Nazi today: ‘Why this baby boom will make us all go bust‘. It’s the sort of article that makes you immediately think of Nazi rhetoric about the master race and the fear of the undeserving breeding and populating an area – diluting or destroying the true, white race. This may sound a little bit exaggerated, but when Amanda Platell makes statements like this:

Sadly, though, it is not the indigenous middle-class, hard-working, tax-paying population that’s exploding.

According to statistics, our latest baby boom is partly down to high birth rates among immigrants, and partly due to rising numbers of younger mothers.

All the classic Daily Mail myths condensed into two short sentences: somehow white people are ‘indigenous’ to the UK, even though we have genetics from most of Europe as a result of constant ebb and flow of populations – our existence here is arbitrary; all of the middle-classes are employed, hard-working and pay taxes; on the other hand young mothers and immigrants never pay taxes and are a drain on the benefit system. The whole premise of the article is based on another Daily Mail fallacy: that there has been some kind of immigrant birth rate ‘boom’, when – as Tabloid Watch and 5CC point out – the actual boom is a rise from 23.2% to 24.1%. That is less than 1%.

However, as 5CC points out, the only reason a boom is being made of such an insignificant figure is that latest immigration figures just do not support the Daily Mail myth that the country is being swamped by dirty foreigners. However, Amanda Platell is not put off repeating it today: ‘Soaring immigration – and a migrant baby boom – has sent Britain’s population rocketing over the 61 million mark.’ This is the trouble when you read the majority of Mail columnists, how can they ever hope to be even vaguely right about anything when their source material is the Daily Mail?

Amanda Platell – like Littlejohn and others – takes a badly skewed world view then warp it that much further using their ‘creative’ licence as columnists, so a ‘boom’ of less than 1% becomes an ‘explosion’. You end up with a vacuous airhead like Amanda Platell spouting absolute shite and sounding very much like a Nazi at the same time.

But this isn’t the only problem with Daily Mail writers, the main problem is that they never, ever show us the sources for their information. I mean, sure, most of the time you can see which article from the Daily Mail they are ripping off and you might have a chance at engaging with the source figures, but today Amanda Platell puts out some interesting figure without giving us any indication where they come from:

The cost of unemployment in the UK is now £346 billion – with £100 billion of that paid in housing benefits alone.

But what do you mean Amanda? Do you mean that each year we spend £346 billion on benefits? It certainly sounds that way, doesn’t it. Then you track down the source and find out that Amanda has removed a bit of important context to make the figure sound scarier:

More than £340bn has been paid in state benefits to the jobless since Labour came to power in 1997, the Tories will disclose today.

Oh, I see, so it is not a yearly figure at all, but a figure since 1997. This means that on average we have spent £28.3 billion on benefits each year in total, with around £8.3 billion of that on housing benefits – you know, that little thing of giving someone a roof over their head. Sadly, Amanda still has sunk lower into her accusations against immigrants:

My other worry is this: how many immigrant mums have contributed anything to this country before landing us with another child to educate in our already struggling schools?

Once more, the myth that all immigrants arrive to be showered in cash is wheeled out once more by Amanda. You know what, Amanda, if you are worried about this, why don’t you do a little bit of research and put your mind at rest that immigrants are NOT entitled to any benefits in the UK unless they have worked for a certain period etc. As for immigrants from outside the EU, they have to jump through so many hoops it is hardly worth moving to the UK to work unless you have a determined employer handling the paperwork and footing some of the bills.

The trouble with you, Amanda, is that you are absolutely clueless about any issues outside of your tiny, empty head. You really should just stick to insulting other women, even though that is a pretty pointless exercise, at least you don’t sound like a worried Nazi.


UPDATE

As Tabloid Watch, many people on Twitter and indeed people in the comments under her Daily Mail article have pointed out, Britain is 52nd the world population density figures, not second as Amanda claims. A quick Google search would have told her this, but clearly she is too lazy and too busy inciting racial hatred towards immigrants. This may well come as a surprise because Amanda Platell is an immigrant, born in Perth Australia. Which does raise the question, if she is writing lie-riddled drivel like this then what exactly is she contributing to the UK?

UPDATE 2

This is now covered by 5CC as well. Carmen Gets Around also has a post on immigration that is worth reading as well.