A Hidden Exchange

Yesterday I read this post and got into an exchange with the author. I thought that the comments were approved, and she was replying because she disagreed, except nothing of the sort was happening.

Now I understand if one doesn’t want to approve a comment, I’ve done it myself if it was just a personal attack or bore no relation to the post I had written. However, why on earth reply then? Not just once but repeatedly. By making all this private, I just think it hides the truth that certain practitioners don’t want others to see.

I can’t access all my previous comments from my WordPress account, and as they have not been published, I have no other record. However, I will, if the author of the post sends them on, reproduce them in their original form. As it stands, I can only give an overview of what was said from memory.

Me:

The problem isn’t EYFS or expectations. The poem represents a short-sighted view. Sounds like you want to be a childminder rather than a teacher. In which case, fine, but you should not be paid a teacher’s wage if you don’t want to teach.

Response:

That’s a very naive and shortsighted opinion of your own (which of course you are entitled to have) but on the basis of all research into the way young children learn since the beginning of time and with all evidence directing us to the pedagogy of young children needing to engage in their learning independently and from a relevant perspective (and also not undermining my own 20 years of teaching within the early years) then I and thousands of other professionals across the UK and Europe would challenge your opinion. Assessment is, of course, necessary and relevant but not an assessment that is driven only by a very mediocre benchmark of what is considered acceptably ‘average’; not an assessment that forces you only to catalogue a child’s progress in a way that is relevant for the teacher and not an assessment that is in conflict to the way a child learns. It should not be an assessment of teachers teaching but assessment of a child’s learning. The two are not the same.
If you want to be an assessment facilitator then please feel free….
I will stick to TEACHING.

Me:

“Research since the beginning of time.”

I rest my case.

Response:

And current trends in education comes from which research about children’s cognitive development exactly?
Which research about a child’s ability to absorb obscure and irrelevant processes is forcing us to measure children’s achievement by ticking boxes?
If any?
Or is it pooled from a political agenda perhaps?

Me:

You are the one making the case for your approach. I gave an opinion to the opinion expressed in the post. (I don’t remember any more of this reply but from the response below, it indicated my problem with the criticisms of teaching phonics and early writing flagged as problematic in the original post). Informal teaching is not the same. Teachers are paid to teach formally; that is their role. If that is not what EYFS want to do, fair enough but that does not mean they should be paid the same. Of course, I am sure most would be happy to earn a teacher’s wage for doing a childminder’s job.

Response:

At what point did I EVER say that I don’t advocate teaching?
As the title of the poem clearly says, data driven teaching is what I find immeasurably wrong. Within early years there is a fundamental requirement that we are led by children, that there is child-initiation, that the learning opportunities are child-centred. This advocacy is rooted in established and proven theory about cognition, child development and pedagogy. Then there is another drive, pushed from the government that requires teachers to categorise and chart children’s progress in a way that contravenes this. This has created an enormous disparity. There are ways in which to teach phonics (as an example you have flagged up as something I am not advocating – which actually I never said) that doesn’t involve repetitive and rote driven learning. There are ways to assess that are meaningful. The fact is, balancing pedagogy with teaching and learning is a proven and fundamental factor with dealing with young children. All I can hear from your response is how very difficult dismissive you are about childminders, that you don’t value play, that what the child says isn’t relevant to you and that you only value formal teaching.
Your poor class!

Me:

  1. EYFS Profile is not statutory, but the baseline is. If the school asks you to collect information in a particular way that is arduous, then the problem lies with the school, not the system.
  2. Criticism of rote learning and repetition is just criticising practicing. which is necessary to learn. Many different tasks/activities available for teaching phonics so variety possible. What kind of phonics is she teaching?
  3. Which research and evidence is being referred to? As Bennett in Teacher Proof and Christoloudou in 7 Myths highlight, there is much pseudoscience in education, so what are these ‘proven theories’, etc is she referring to?
  4. As the child of an illiterate father, I have little time for those who believe that children will simply pick it up in their own time when they are ready. I know that is not true for him and all those other adults who are illiterate or innumerate. May wish to understand the problems that these adults face and the responsibility that is laid on the doorstep of their children, who, if they are literate. It’s about balancing this in the end – no good giving one child their ‘childhood’ while robbing another of theirs.
  5. No need to drag my classes into it. My last class were perfectly happy, and the only sad thing is that I am no longer working at the school and able to teach them again as both they and I had wished. I will be going in to show them the pictures of Ancient Greek artefacts and temple.

Response:

Deary me you are properly out of your comfort zone with your bit between your teeth.
I am not going to even going to attempt to rise to your bait.
Thankfully my own ‘accountability’ speaks for itself; I have a professional reputation and credibility that I am proud of and this is reflected all over my cpd and this includes outstanding achievements from the children I teach.
Being paid to teach ‘formally’ does not equate to formal teaching too young being the right way to teach them, or the best way they learn. This is not just my opinion but an uprising all over the country from thousands of professionals campaigning for a less data driven; less assessment driven educational system. Read the papers, look online, it’s everywhere. This is not s new debate, it is cemented in the research of educationalists, psychologists, neurologists and sociologists renowned the world over. I am more inclined to rely on their findings than yours quite frankly. Didactic teaching might achieve quick results but it has been proven not to cement concrete learning in a meaningful way for children who have not reached that cognitive stage in their development. Therefore whatever you teach them formally will remain abstract to them until they relearn it when they are ready much later. It won’t be useful to them.
Do your research and enjoy teaching them about temples next week.

Me:

Responses to me have been patronising and still not a single name of a person who supports the ideas expressed. Also if she had the guts to express these opinions, she may wish to do so publicly instead of privately.

Here’s the crux of the issue:

  • I simply don’t respect the two-faced nature of this interaction. I have encountered it in teaching far too many times. Whatever you think of my opinions, I am expressing them to you directly. I am not giving a “aren’t I a lovely teacher who everyone should approve of” face to the public while demonstrating a very different one away from the view of the same people.
  • The way children are dragged into it. I may not agree with the thinking behind and outcomes of child-initiated and play based learning but I am not suggesting that the teachers in question are cruel, vindictive people who should not be in charge of children. That accusation comes out of the mouths of people who should know better than to throw around accusations. I get why they do it, it’s a distraction from their inability to argue their point. Even if I think that their methods are the absolute incorrect way to teach, it does not stand that they do not care about the children they teach or love them.
  • Another thing that I find unacceptable is people who are happy to criticise me on the basis of my experience or qualifications in EYFS.  I have qualifications in political science, does that mean she is not entitled to an opinion on government policy or how it is formed?  There were two people who chose this line of arguement yesterday. So if either believes in this line of argument then they can lead by example.  Don’t make comments unless you have significant experience and/or qualifications. Or maybe just grow up and accept that there are people who can see through your “do as I say, don’t do as I do” hypocritical stance.

I don’t care if people disagree with me, I don’t even care if they point out I am wrong (or indeed I am wrong).

I do have a problem with people being two-faced, sneaky in their criticisms or underhand in the way they go about it.

I do have a problem with people who think that one rule applies to them and another to me and I should accept this because of some claim to superiority.

Teachers who are vindictive and deliberately hurt children are not allowed to be teachers. I think it’s time manipulative, emotionally immature and anti-intellectual were added to that list.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. fish64 says:

    I don’t understand either why teachingtinyminds refuses to debate in public – perhaps they want to convey the impression that no one disagrees with them…….!!!

    Like

    1. teachwell says:

      I thought it was public!! I don’t get it, she has now deleted her replies to me as well – which she can do since it’s her blog. I think it’s clear from the responses that she is not willing to be specific about any of the reasons behind her thinking. It’s also clear that she wouldn’t post a response like that in public but is happy to do it where no-one else is looking. Typical bully behaviour.

      Like

  2. Two problems I noticed on wordpress.
    I could contribute to a discussion and my reply can actually be edited
    (I don’t understand why this feature exists)
    Also as an anonymous blogger, the email linked to my wordpress account shows up (to the owner) on any blog I comment on (I have recently had to set up an anonymous email also). Why I blog anonymously is a separate debate but I wonder how many people realise this slight flaw in wordpress
    Ps thank you for publishing comments I have made to you when you don’t necessarily agree [I’m still investigating round earth assumptions!]

    Like

    1. teachwell says:

      You and your flat earth!!! You don’t need to thank me – I have approved all comments barring two that were not responding to the blog post and included ad homs. I had already said I would to the person so fair enough. Yes the email thing is concerning if you want to remain anonymous. The only thing I would say is to create a google account with an email that allows you to be anonymous. I agree about the edited replies and also I don’t like the fact that we don’t get a copy of our original comments because they could be rewritten. WordPress definitely need to get onto this!!

      Liked by 1 person

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