Monday, September 13, 2010

Lessons for Education from TV

Michael Gove apparently wants schools to start emulating Gareth Malone, whose "Extraordinary School for Boys' series started last week on BBC1. Malone could become the Jamie Oliver of lessons, so I finally got round to watching the first episode of his programme. It's difficult to say what was most annoying about this tedious tv enterprise. It could be Malone himself, who combines his ridiculous keenness with an incredibly annoying adoption of a naive/'little boy lost in big world' persona that was wearing thin after the first five minutes. It could be that the programme is based upon the nonsensical premise that educating and playing are essentially the same thing. Or it could be the programme's desire to keep focusing in on the class 'characters' - who of course are the really annoying kids with loud, inarticulate opinions who would be better advised to go and re-read the school's Healthy Eating guidelines.

The programme had an annoying habit of being utterly repetitive, perhaps believing that its entire audience was comprised of Attention Deficit Disorder sufferers who needed to be constantly reminded of the purpose of the project. Cue lots of shots of Gareth telling us that the problem is that boys are disengaged from school, with voice-over man regularly telling us that Gareth had to increase the boys' literacy standard in eight weeks. Yawn.

In Gareth Malone's school you don't have to stick to a curriculum, you can invite a whole team of previously invisible council workers to help clear a wood patch, and you can treat every day like a day off school so that you can do games instead. And since Gareth is only actually in school for three days a week, it is the regular teachers who pick up the pieces when the class returns to normal lessons in actual classrooms (Gareth doesn't use classrooms as they disengage the boys).

What we learnt from all this is that boys prefer activities to learning (and Gareth's risky stuff wasn't actually as risky as he made out, with his helmets while clearing wood and staid rules for British Bulldog). Sherlockian stuff, really. After watching this pap, I wasn't sure whether my problem is that I hate kids, hate schools, or just hate wise-guy TV presenters with crap ideas about education. What's worse is that Michael Gove thinks this is the way forward for education. In despair, I turned to the Inbetweeners for a more realistic look at education instead.

1 comment:

Fattus Connollus said...

Great article Giles - very amusing. Watched the programme too. I bet he's never climbed a tree in his life - and he can't run properly either!