Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Teach first?

I've been thinking about applying to teach first but looking at the website for it makes me feel a little bit ill. 

All these lame ass cartoons of smiling graduates going into rough, sorry I mean 'challenging' schools, looking serious, thoughtful, ready for action, ready for their temporary teaching mission. 

Now I'm not suggesting that aren't any good intentions behind this scheme (though I am suspicious about the fact that it is business funded). The problems do seem to outweigh the positives.

Having read the FAQs on their site, I have a few of my own....
Like, doesn't it de-value teaching as a profession by suggesting that it is something you could do for 2 years before you get on with your real job? 
Why do you want to attract people who hadn't considered teaching? 
Aren't the best teachers the ones who think that education is the most important thing in the world, and want to do it for reasons other than a career stepping stone?
What do you mean by 'exceptional' graduates, and what experience prior to Teach First do these graduates have of 'challenging' schools?
Why are you giving the most needy schools poorly qualified teaching staff?
Why do you think these schools are challenging? 
Do you think young middle class enthusiasm is the best solution to all social ills?
Are there any ethical qualms about challenging schools (or disadvantaged youth ) being used as a leadership stepping stone by those who are (relatively) privileged?

I'm not saying no good ever comes out of this program, frankly I don't know. The premise of Teach first  seems worryingly ill conceived. 
I did Project Trust, which was sold as a year to be proud of,  and though I am proud of some things, my abiding feeling is one of massive conscience ache. When I read over these profiles of how teaching poor kids helped Henry Whatshisface-smythe come up with examples of his leadership skills to get a job at JP morgan, I can't help but feel that it's all just a bit gross. 

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