Thursday, 23 February 2012

Microteaches #7: I Thought Half-Term Was A Holiday?

Half-term was last week. I thought I'd have a bit of a break, some time to lie in. Didn't happen. We had an action-packed few days celebrating my birthday, and there were builders in renovating the flats upstairs, which consisted of drilling and hammering very loudly from 8am. There was a frisson of excitement as they managed to drop a heating pipe through our ceiling on my birthday itself, and that of course was it - it was impossible to relax when wondering if any more hardware was going to pitch itself into our flat. I'm so tired that I feel like Steve.

Pissing me off massively during half-term was the article in the Indy stating "Female teachers accused of giving boys lower marks". The paper itself is available here. Sadly I don't understand enough of the statistical metrics, and indeed didn't have much time to read in detail, to be able to comment much beyond the executive summary. But the basic gist seemed to be that boys assume that their work will be marked lower by female teachers so they don't try as hard. Girls assume their work will be marked higher by male teachers so they try harder. And while female teachers confirm the boys' beliefs by marking girls more leniently, the male teachers mark boys more leniently.

So what is going on there? I don't feel that I do mark boys' work more harshly. I sometimes think I do the exact opposite. Male colleagues of mine are exceptionally hard on the boys, and on many occasions I've had blazing rows with them to try to save my boys' places on courses. If anything I allow boys more leniency than girls to compensate for my colleagues. I am but a single data point though. And to be fair, my style of teaching mostly involves revealing increments of cleavage in return for coursework.

Professional Pob impersonator and all-round fucking moron Michael Gove has delivered another slap in the face to teachers by saying "If you [teachers] love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well" (from Huffington Post). This is in the context of expecting us to stay longer during the day and take shorter holidays.

Well, Govey, this week went as follows. On each morning I've been in at 8am - this is the earliest I am allowed to enter the premises. If I could go in at 7:30am I would. On Monday I left at 6:30pm when the college shut. On Tuesday I left at 8:45pm, yesterday at 7:45pm and this evening I ducked out early at 7pm. Tomorrow is a training day so I might get to leave at 5pm. Twelve-hour days are nothing unusual. On Tuesday and Wednesday I had to sit down at my laptop when I got home and work for another three hours. During half-term most of us went into work on at least one day of our holiday, and I will have three days taken out of my Easter break for revision purposes. So I would like very much to know what more Gove would like me to do.

This term is all about coursework, and my A2s are starting to complain that they're not doing fieldwork. They were the ones who moaned like buggery about having to do so, and now they're having to live with doing lab-based research projects. It's going to be an absolute disaster. The AS students are doing better, and some of the more interesting topics I've seen are on ageing, cirrhosis of the liver, Kawasaki disease, conservation of gorillas, testicular cancer and equine colic. We're going on a trip next week, so if you hear that a constituent college of the University of London out in Surrey has burnt to the ground, you'll know that was my lot. I predict it will be a matter of minutes after the coach pulls out of our car park before the strains of "Stop the bus I want a wee-wee" are heard...


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