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It's Your Time You're Wasting: A Teacher's Tales of Classroom Hell Paperback – 2 Sep 2006
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A diary of a modern teacher's working life.
From the Author
I started out as a nice liberal bloke who thought the best of everyone. I changed, over time. I believed Blair when he said he'd sort out education. How wrong I was. This book is dedicated to the good kids - there are plenty of them, but they're being slowly crushed by the bad - and several hundred thousand hard-working teachers, who do their best against the impossible odds created by our mad, politically-correct nightmare of an education system. It's a funny book - I hope - with a serious message; the time for talking is over. We need to sort our schools out now, before it really is too late. Frank Chalk.See all Product description
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The chapter on the ICT suite is a case in point:
"The work done in the IT suite looks, to a non-expert outsider like myself, like a mixture of typing and that exercise you used to do aged six, in junior school; the one where you would cut pictures out of magazines and stick them on a large piece of coloured paper to make a collage. Cutting and pasting, we used to call it. Nowadays it is still called cutting and pasting but it is much easier: there’s no messy glue to worry about, and the participants are all 15-years-old. What progress we have made!"
Similarly, the author accurately describes the sort of INSET training day that teachers everywhere have come to dread: the parachuting in of a so-called expert who has nothing interesting or relevant to say, but wastes a lot of time in the process.
This book is a full-length version of a staffroom cynic's hilarious diatribe. Buy it.
This review was originally published in my Digital Education newsletter.
The more I read, the more obvious it became that this was not true.
The book is the ramblings of a cynical and jaded man. Taken as a piece of comedy writing on the subject of education, it's a very entertaining way to spend a few hours. However, as a supposedly accurate portrayal of life as a teacher, it fails disastrously.
Some of the generalisations when talking about the students and the lifestyles they lead outside school are pure Daily Mail scaremongering. It also gives a completely inaccurate impression of both education generally and what it means to be a teacher, contributing to the low opinion held of the profession amongst the general public which, ironically, the author bemoans in the book.
Approach it as a work of fiction. It is the only way to read this book.
This isn't an uplifting book; it's quite depressing and it should, really, be a bit boring as the whole book is just one long whinge about the secondary school system. But it isn't. That's partly because it is written in a very accessible and mildly humorous style and partly because each bite-sized episode is engaging and interesting in its own right. The book should also be a bit dated as it was written some ten years ago, but, again, it isn't because, depressingly, the dire conditions forming the backbone of the narrative have either not changed at all or, in some cases, have become worse. Frank Chalk does a good job of keeping party politics out of his rantings and, quite rightly in my opinion, blames the whole system rather than one party. His descriptions of the stereotypical characters chime perfectly with people that I've met, as do his feelings about them. I was surprised that one element was missing though and that is that, apart from a very, very, brief mention of a female 'student' (read 'child') forming a crush on him, he doesn't, really, say much about the very real problem in today's schools of teenaged girls looking and dressing like 20 year olds and teenaged boys having the voice, physique and facial hair of adults.
This book scares the life out of me because it is so close to home for me. We have a 2 1/2 year old grandson who is growing up on a 'Cherry Tree Farm' type estate with 'Kanye' and 'Chantelle' parents. If Frank Chalk is right, then our grandson's future is doomed from the outset. And I believe that he is right. My mum did better than her mum and I've done better than my mum. But that progression is now broken and I fear that our grandson (the product of my stepson in whose education I played no part) is already beyond our help.
Well done Frank Chalk; I thoroughly enjoyed your book. I wish that I could disagree with at least some of what you say but I can't! If I can find more of your output, I'll read that too.
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