Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011
A Paladin lacking in Wisdom

Stretch yourselves. Answer these questions, if you think you're hard enough:
* There were no _________ remarks at the parents' evening. Is the correct word: dissaproving disaproveing dissapproving disapproving?
* A lesson begins at 11:40. The teacher prepares a 10-minute introduction followed by a 15-minute video clip and then a 25-minute activity. At what time does the activity end? Give your answer using the 24-hour clock.
* The children enjoyed the _________ nature of the task. Is the correct word: mathmatical, mathematical, mathemmatical or mathematicall?
* Teachers organised activities for three classes of 24 pupils and four classes of 28 pupils. What was the total number of pupils involved?
* For a science experiment a teacher needed 95 cubic centimetres of vinegar for each pupil. There were 20 pupils in the class. Vinegar comes in 1,000 cubic centimetre bottles. How many bottles of vinegar were needed?

Michael Gove to set out tougher teacher training rules, reports the Telegraph.
Mr Gove is to publish new requirements for the "basic skills tests" to be completed before embarking on teacher training. Candidates will also be allowed a maximum of two re-sits for each exam.
The questions quoted above were from the current versions of these literacy and numeracy basic skills tests. One in five trainee teachers fails either the literacy or numeracy part of this fiendish Educational Tripos on the first sitting.

Oh dear. Is the correct word perthetic, pafetic, or pathetic?

Answer: all three, with knobs on. You might think from this that I am going to urge the Secretary of State for Education to an even more drastic reform than allowing only two re-sits. One re-sit! One re-sit and then euthanasia!

I make no such urgings. It none of it matters. The trouble is, to put in terms that an old D&D-er like the Minister would understand, is that it is a very bad idea to magic missile the orcs while the lich remains undefeated. The least of the problems with state education is that orcs who made a bad INT roll are let into the profession. Orcs can do quite nicely as teachers. A teacher needs to roll for three characteristics:

- knowledge of the subject he or she is to teach,
- the knack of teaching,
- ability to maintain classroom discipline.

Of course it is good to have rolled high in all three, and, to be fair to Mr Gove's latest initiative, he is probably right that a 1 in any of them probably should disqualify the applicant. But a good score in two qualities can usually compensate for one bad roll.

But by Garl Glittergold's holy nugget, I did not mean to get distracted by recommending this tweak or that tweak of Mr Gove's new "tougher" criteria! It's all pointless, I tell you. (Particularly as by Mr Gove's express wish, a person who really had passed the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge would be refused a bursary to train as a maths teacher, if he or she had only a third class degree. Yes, really, even if they could work out how many bottles of vinegar were needed.)

The point was this. You don't fight the orcs, Gove the Mighty But Deluded. You fight the liches. Give the man his due, allowing for the fact that "Secretary of State for Education" is a useless character class that ought to be deleted from any future editions, he is doing better than any we have had for years. If he survives the liches, he may even take the fight to the Blob itself.

Just leave the orcs alone. Head teachers can fight their own orcs, or hire 'em, you don't have to worry which. It is unbecoming for anyone above fifth level to bash an orc.

(Also posted at Samizdata, with comments open.)