How do you retain teachers and attract them back into the profession?

I suspect that none of this will happen, but we dare to dream.

My Utopian Manifesto

To retain teachers and attract them back into the profession:

(1) reduce testing, marking and assessment regimes by 80%. Have we forgotten that education is about learning not testing? Constant externalised evaluation exists to serve the machinery of capitalism insofar as the latter thrives on selection, competition, and elites. Learners, like teachers, are being worn down by intrusive and unnecessary testing.

(2) cut admin and planning duties by 75%. Let us trust spontaneity and allow teachers to respond to a more participatory, learner-led environment. Education has become a factory production line and a bureaucracy.

(3) raise starting salary by 25%. Teachers are very poorly paid compared to the business and financial sector. They should be rewarded for their work, and for making a sustainable contribution to human life on the planet.

(4) trust teachers and schools to design their own curriculum. Let's put an end to the top-down one-size-fits-all approach to education. Radicals take this notion one step further and claim that teachers should be employed to assist the learners to design their own programmes and goals. Notice again the diminished role for teachers to engage in the dreary slavery that dominates the power model of educational control freakery.

(5) promote training and offer freedom to reflect through sabbaticals. Teachers need time reflect on their practices: in and out of the educational system. Sabbaticals are not holidays; they are emotional recharge and intelligent re-freshment.

(6) make school optional when students reach 15 years. I'd like to set an even earlier age for leaving school, but you will shoot me. If you have not read it, I recommend Ivan Illich's book De-Schooling Society.

(7) protect teachers from children and parents who attack them in any form; learning is a dialogue and a conversation; abusive parents and children should be removed from the formal school environment.

(8) offer options/ incentives for short placements outside teaching to broaden and enrich teachers' experience. Teachers need time out and also benefit from periods of work that are not part of the educational system.

But if none of that works, maybe it's time to read Ivan Illich and to commence a radical rethink of the role and effectiveness of our current systems of education.


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