Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

We're the Worst Students: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

We're the Worst Students: Comment

Article excerpt

I looked up and two of them were passing notes to each other and giggling. At least three of them had checked their phones. One right at the back looked as though he might be asleep, and a gentle snore a moment later confirmed it. Another had a magazine open in front of her and was doing a bad job at pretending not to read. One talented artist feverishly sketched a comic book character while others doodled feebly. I noticed nail filing, fidgeting and glazing over as I scanned the room. No, this wasn't a Year 11 revision class: it was a group of teachers at a continuing professional development session.

Why do secondary teachers make such bad students? You'd think that we, more than most, would know how gratifying it is to have bright, eager faces turned towards us. You'd think that after years of envisioning the ideal student, we might at least replicate that ideal. It seems not.

Perhaps it's the role reversal we object to. After all, we are used to being in charge. A colleague told me the other day that during a workshop he'd once led, he'd had to give a slap on the wrist to a teacher reading a newspaper. The reprimanded teacher stated that he wasn't in Year 9 and stormed out, only to return minutes later and sit, arms folded, refusing to participate.

CPD on the first days back after a holiday quickly descends into off-task conversations. Long sessions after school are prone to half-hearted, resentful participation. Off-site development and guest speakers fare slightly better thanks to novelty value, but the very people you would expect to see modelling the traits of a "good student" mirror every type of behaviour you see in your average classroom. …

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