The Truth about Teachers in UK Schools
My job is particularly interesting as I get to see beneath the surface. I am always amazed at the parallel lives we share. Sometimes the similarities are a cause for concern and this is when I feel it is important to reveal issues that I come across on my blog. I am in an unusual position in that people’s experiences are not shared openly, yet when I see many clients who separately complain about the same issues I see the need to investigate further.
The latest common issue has been to do with our schooling system. On many levelsI am coming across evidence that our children are often ‘bullied’ by their teachers. Of course this is subtle bullying and when a parent dares to complain, the school’s close ranks and rarely truly listen to the parents. Inside schools in the UK, staff stick together and know not to get involved in whistle blowing.
Teachers themselves, seem to be caught up in a system of bullying amongst staff.I have worked with many teachers over the years and have been astonished to hear the inside stories of what really goes on in schools. The heads of staff often exploit and demean their staff and force teachers to collude in distorting what really goes on at school in order to get a favourable OFSTED report. Children are diverted from their regular lessons, difficult students are escorted off the premises on day trips and as a result the School superficially appears wonderful to OFSTED inspectors.
What is of more concern is the way teachers treat students. At first teachers seem to be enthusiastic and embrace the spirit of education but after a while their authoritative positions seems to begin to affect their behaviour. I have heard of stories where children are humiliated in front of their classmates, I have also heard of “walls of shame” being used to “motivate” under performing students to work harder. No one wants their name on the wall of shame. Stories of high school students who have to stand on their desk and act like a chicken laying an egg as a punishment for getting a question wrong. All the above examples, in my opinion, are damaging. on some levels, students are treated worse than prisoners. Most teenagers (I would venture as high as 90%) do not like school and I believe part of the reason for this is the intense peer pressure as well as ignorant teachers who forget their hugely important role in shaping our future generations.
Types of abuse that I have come across:
1) Emotional abuse
Isolation – singling out a student for discipline in front of the class. We are all social beings and we get our self-image in part by the way others see us. If we think others see us as a stupid loser this will affect how we see ourselves.
Degrading-when a teacher tells a student that they have a bad attitude that they will “never amount to anything” in front of classmates, this degradation originates with the teacher but continues with the classmates outside of the classroom. Degradation has far-reaching consequences not just outside of the classroom but possibly even outside of school and into adulthood.
Rejection-refusing to acknowledge the students present, value or worth; communicating to a person that he or she is useless or inferior; devaluing her/his thoughts and feelings. Sadly it appears that that this is rife in UK schools. It appears that education goes hand-in-hand with daily psychological abuse. Look up Zimbardo’s prison experiments for further information on how ugly it can get for people who are publicly separated and isolated. There can be a snowball effect. First you sit in the middle of the room and feel bad. Then the people around you start to treat you differently. They laugh and point fingers and find other ways to isolate and exclude you. The inept teacher becomes the “leader of the pack”.
Of course for the teacher this social control works very well because having experienced that kind of trauma once, you’ll never want to go through it again, and so for sure you jump into line and tap along to the tune provided. If you don’t… Well then you’ll confirm to the teacher what a “bad” student you are.
Outcome of emotional abuse
Emotional abuse can result in serious emotional and behavioural problems, including depression, lack of attachment or emotional bond to a parent or guardian, low cognitive ability and educational achievement, and poor social skills.If teaching methods are not strictly monitored the educational system can be more damaging than beneficial especially where conservative, old-fashioned discipline is used.
Sadly, it seems that the UK education system has all become about reaching targets rather than encouraging students to be inquisitive about the world.The spirit of education is being eroded and students are being harshly punished through negative reinforcement, humiliation and pressure to fit in.
Inside schools in the UK, teachers are aware of each other’s styles of teaching. Some had admitted to me that they have done nothing about bullying between teachers and students as they do not want to lose their jobs.Through the many stories I have heard from my clients, I have been told of many abuses of power and authority, and as a civilised modern society this should not be tolerated. Physical and emotional abuse are horrible motivators leading to far more problems than they solve. Schools have a hard enough time dealing with bullying without teachers adding to the trouble by ‘painting a target on a child’s back”.
Emotional abuse is a huge problem in schools
Parents, get involved if you’re child is being emotionally abused at school. Write a letter to the school explaining your concerns. Many parents fear reprisals and therefore do nothing in the hope that it will go away. The bottom line is every child deserves to be treated with respect and to be listened to. Teachers can become arrogant and expect their opinions and rules to be a adhered to at all times. I would like to add that there are some amazing teachers-those that use humour and enthusiasm rather than negative reinforcement to motivate students to learn. I know a few of these teachers and I have the utmost respect for them.