Friday, March 10, 2006

the circle game

It's already the holidays, can you believe it? We've had a short term 1 because of the Commonwealth Games and now we're going to pay for it because the other 3 terms are really, really long ones. Kids have a limit - 10 weeks for a school term (normal) is pushing it a bit. By week 8 the kids are already bouncing off the walls, but for those two last weeks you can kind of reign them in and kick them when noone is looking or something but any longer and I'd imagine it will be teachers underneath desks and kids hanging out the window. I'm not looking forward to coming back to a long horrid term 2.

Melbournians, apparently haven't been embracing the CommGames as we should. We're a cynical bunch, I admit. But dammit, that's why I like Melbourne. I'd hate to put up with people who have obviously had too much sun and are eternally optimistic about everything. Boo! Get realistic kids! Anyway, Hughsey, Kate and Dave on the Nova breakfast show picked up on the cynical attitude that Melbournains had about the games and have been trying to rev up enthusiasm. Yesterday they asked people to ring in with their positive comments about the games. Every single call had someone sarcastically putting on a fake happy voice and complaining about something ("gee, I can't WAIT until I'm stuck in traffic all day!" or "Won't it be great when we get all these new visitors who drop rubbish everywhere and then we get to pick it up!"). I'm sure it was entirely unplanned, this influx of cynical callers, which is what made it more funny. Apparently Sydney can't wait for the whole thing to fail. Well, the opening ceremony has an inflatble tram with wings decending into the MCG. For fucks sake. I apologise in advance folks! Talk about naff.

The other day we had a curriculum day at school. I remember curriculum days from when I was in primary school. The announcement would come over the loud speaker about it and everyone would suddenly start cheering and stomping their feet. A holiday for everyone! Now that I'm a teacher, let me tell you there's no cheering or holiday (but there are a lot of comments about how nice school would be if we didn't have any kids! har). Basically the day is filled with listening to teachers talk about improving the curriculum and then going through PDs about how to improve gifted education and differentiating the curriculum (which is the current buzz). Meh, it's basically the same old shit everytime. I tend to doodle on my pad and try to look interested - obviously I fail miserably because people are always coming up to me and telling me that my facial expressions are priceless. ugh, I need to stop thinking of 'if s/he was the last person on earth would I sleep with them' type senarios. It's not good for when I'm trying to appear professional.

Being the art teacher I'm finding that staff meetings and curriculum days are not really very relevant to me anymore. It's a bit sad. I actually *like* learning new things (despite attitude above) and if I could afford it I'd love to go back and study more. But, I hate learning new and interesting things that I then can't actually use. It's depressing.

Half way through the day the specialist team (we're not really a team, but we call ourselves that to stop ourselves from feeling sad and lonely) went to tackle the new curriculum document that is coming out in schools this year. About every 5 years there is a shake up of the edu system and teachers are asked to remodel and change the way they're doing things. For instance, for the last couple of years there has been a push towards health/PE/differentiation/values in the curriculum and the new document reflects this by asking us to be more integrated in our approach to teaching and especially to include values in the what we teach. I have a *big* problem with the values bit.

Values are very personal and should be taught at home and reinforced at school in the school rules and general school attitude only. But primarily it is a parental responsibility to teach their children how to behave and how to be a good person. I really don't want to start poo-pooing parents all the time but for fucks sake RAISE YOUR FUCKING CHIlDREN YOURSELVES! Teach them what to eat! Teach them how to dress! Teach them how to behave! Teach them how to be good humans! Yes, schools have rules which reflect general values that hopefully everyone is teaching their children (respect, golden rule etc), but in the classroom values should be incidental and reflected in attitude rather than explicitly taught. Teachers do not need the responsibility of teaching children values as well as everything else. We also don't need the responsibility of being held accountable if values go wrong - which, let me tell you will happen if we put 'values' explicitly in the school curriculum document. Already teachers are blamed for every ill in society! We're a bigger scapegoat than the Muslims and the Unions!

Anyway, this is not the point. Besides that the new document does not really outline what we should teach. It's very...sparse. I read through the art section and nearly tore my hair out - it's like dealing with a kid who did something bad but won't actually admit it. You go round and round in cirles but in the end there is nothing you can pinpoint that will give you a clue. Yep, this is what the new document is like. In some ways it gives teachers a bit more freedom - in other ways if I go by the document I have *no idea* what to assess! There are *no* guidelines at all! There are no real standards! I am at a loss. You realise that I have to make up some concrete standards now.

Yes, the girl who has never taught art before needs to make up standards from which to assess. And you know what I'm going to do now, don't you?

Yes, I'm going back to the old document!