Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Wink wink, nudge nudge ;-)

Last week the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee reported its year-long investigation into behaviour change. The outcome? You cannot change behaviour by nudges alone...

As teachers across the country survey their depleted pensions and I consider the end of my first year outside the profession, I am struck that any school behaviour policy would have told them much the same thing.

Schools are microcosms of society - teaching and support staff, the government and administration to an electorate of pupils. No authority may rule without consent, as is most obvious when compulsory education challenges the very essence of adolescent rebellion.

In good schools, rewards and sanctions reinforce a culture of learning and communal wellbeing. The best rarely resort to sanctions, of course, for their legislation - no phones, no gum - is forgotten in the desire to achieve, intellectually, vocationally and socially.

That so many of us look back on our school years with such fondness is a lesson in itself. Here we experienced the inspiration and trust that allow us to adapt in adult life, the social codes and moral compass that dictate when and where we should break the rules.

In this context, it is saddening to see educators pilloried yet again for SATs results that so many agree are a poor indicator of achievement and ability. We have only to sample a cross section of drivers to see that a one-off examination does little to raise standards.

We undermine teaching at our peril, for in this world of ubiquitous communications, the nudge we transmit to our children is that schools have no authority. Small wonder we are met with an adult population that refuses to line up.



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