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ASTI Fightback statement on the outcome of today’s ballot September 20, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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From the ASTI Fightback Facebook page

ASTI FIGHTBACK statement on the outcome of today’s ballot.

ASTI FIGHTBACK salutes all teachers who have today sent a clear message to the Government/DES that teachers have taken enough. There are many reasons for our rejection of Haddington Road, some of which we outline below.

On 1st July 2013, the Government/DES broke its Croke Park 1 promise not to cut pay before 2014 — despite the fact that ASTI members had, through gritted teeth, complied with every dot and comma of the agreement. For members this was a grievous breach of trust and made any new agreement extremely difficult. How could we believe the pay restoration promises of Haddington Road when the promise not to cut pay was not kept under Croke Park 1? Teachers are unwilling to accept the normalisation of regular pay cuts and changes in working conditions under these so-called ‘social partnership’ agreements.

In October 2012, Ruarí Quinn published A Framework for Junior Cycle on the new Junior Cycle. Teachers were not consulted. Quinn simply pushed us aside. How can any Minister expect to reform the education system without consulting the very people who would have to implement such reform? Teachers do not trust the Government/DES on the new Junior Cycle. We believe it is educationally regressive. It risks leading us down the road of the English education system. The plan to replace the functions of the State Examinations Commission with Standardised Testing in Maths, English and Science will lead to a narrowing of the curriculum and pave the way for the introduction of league tables — with all of the problems they could bring, such as labelling schools as ‘underperforming’ or ‘failing’ schools. The Junior Cycle also had the potential to dramatically increase the workload of already seriously over-burdened teachers. There is a distinct impression among teachers that the Government/DES is exploiting the crisis to radically restructure the education system in a way which will seriously undermine the delivery of a broad general education.

We also rejected the planned introduction of performance management ‘at the level of the individual’ and the linking of increments to performance. We saw this simply as a mechanism to deny increments to teachers who work extremely hard often under very difficult circumstances to try to deliver a quality education to all students in the context of the ongoing cuts to the Education budget. Educational performance cannot be measured like a factory producing commodities. It is a social process whose outcomes are determined by many different factors, not the least of which is the student’s background. As the Government continues to implement its austerity policy, driving more and more families into unemployment and poverty, more and more students are suffering from the impact of deprivation at home, and this is having a knock-on effect in the classroom.

Teachers have always given very freely of our time, particularly in relation to extra curricular activities, such as training school teams. In that context, we deeply resented the fact that we had to do an additional 33 hours’ non-teaching work, which meant having to stay back after school on a regular basis for meetings which were often not very educationally worthwhile. This was and is having a serious impact on our productivity in the classroom, reducing time for lesson preparation and leading to fatigue and burnout. The notion, under Haddington Road, that these hours would be maintained and that the S&S hours would be increased from 37 to 43 hours — without pay — was simply unacceptable to us.

The situation of non-permanent teachers in the education system, particularly at second level, is truly appalling. 29% of ASTI members are on some form of temporary or part-time contract. Such a level of casualisation is totally unacceptable. The notion that an ‘expert group’ would be set up under Haddington Road to investigate this was deeply disingenuous when everyone knows that casualisation in the teaching and lecturing professions is in fact Government policy — which the Government could change overnight if it wished to do so.

The Government/DES has repeatedly and relentlessly attacked new entrants for cuts in pay and conditions additional to those suffered by pre-2011 teachers. Haddington Road would have maintained a gap of 7.5% between pre- and post-2011 teachers over the next 20 years. This was simply unacceptable. New entrant pay must be restored to the pre-2011 salary scale, with all teachers on the same scale.

We saw the serious implications under Croke Park 1 of not being free to take industrial action. Under that agreement, the Government attacked new entrants and introduced new inferior sick leave and maternity leave arrangements for teachers. We could not respond because we were tied into an industrial peace clause. Under Haddington Road, we would have had our hands similarly tied and would have had to stand by as the Government/DES continued to dismantle teachers’ pay and conditions, as well as the education system itself (e.g. the new Junior Cycle, School Self-Evaluation, increases in the pupil-teacher ratio etc.)

Finally, all right-thinking trade unionists were incensed at the Government’s introduction of the FEMPI Act 2013, the emergency legislation that has given the Government special powers to unilaterally cut pay and conditions of public servants. This was a step too far for ASTI members and we voiced our concerns loud and clear both outside the Dáil on the day Labour ministers voted in favour of the legislation, and at the ICTU conference in Belfast. At present ASTI stands as one of the few trade unions that can genuinely claim to stand in the tradition of Larkin in standing up to the bullying of the employers (the Government/DES among them) in this country. We call on other trade union members to reject the sellouts of their leaderships and break out of the Haddington Road agreement and join the opposition to the Government and its ongoing policy of dismantling the pay and conditions of all workers, public and private, in this country.

As we await Monday’s Standing Committee meeting, which will decide our next course of action, we once again pay tribute to all teachers who have found the courage to stand up and say, “Enough is enough!” Thanks also to all of those who took part in ASTI FIGTBACK’s campaign which helped to promote the No vote.

Comments»

1. LeftAtTheCross - September 20, 2013

Whereas the TUI have accepted Haddington Road.

http://www.tui.ie/news-events/tui-members-accept-the-haddington-road-agreement.4439.html

Hard to believe that only 65% of TUI members bothered to vote.

Interesting times ahead if ASTI do progress their opposition to industrial action, as sanctioned by their membership:

http://www.asti.ie/news/latest-news/news-article/article/asti-members-reject-haddington-road-agreement-and-vote-for-industrial-action//back_to/asti-home/

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WorldbyStorm - September 20, 2013

Strangely low figure, I agree.

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Sean (@SeanDeLuain) - September 22, 2013

I am a disappointed TUI voter. However regards voter number- I think the ASTI poll was even lower at 55% of members voting.

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2. irishelectionliterature - September 20, 2013

Have been talking to a teacher or two since the vote result. Interesting times ahead. Many staff rooms divided now between TUI and ASTI as well as quite a high number of staff who never bothered to join either union.

The ASTI has to get the message across that the extra hours worked under Croke Park or Haddington Road did not contain 1 extra second of teaching time, which I think is one of the most frustrating parts of both deals.
Teachers would prefer if an extra class a week were added to their timetable rather than these mainly useless made up meetings held after school to use up the Croke Park hours.

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WorldbyStorm - September 20, 2013

+1

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LeftAtTheCross - September 20, 2013

+1 in our household also.

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3. irishelectionliterature - September 20, 2013

I know its an unwritten rule that you don’t switch Union during a dispute, but I can see a lot of the TUI people who voted against Haddington Road wanting to switch to ASTI.

A vast generalisation here but ASTI tend to be in the majority in the Community school and VEC sector whilst the TUI would be the majority in the rest of the Secondary school sector.

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WorldbyStorm - September 20, 2013

I always had the impression that it’s the other way around, that TUI is the majority in community schools and VECs while ASTI is the majority in the secondary school sector.

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Tomboktu - September 20, 2013

I would have thought like WbS on that. Historically, the TUI represented those who worked in the techs, and the ASTI represented those who worked in the schools run by the brothers and the nuns.

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irishelectionliterature - September 20, 2013

Yep got them mixed up… 😦

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4. A Parent - September 20, 2013

Hilarious stuff lads, well done!
“Teachers have always given very freely of our time, particularly in relation to extra curricular activities, such as training school teams.”
Is the ASTI not aware of how teachers have begun to view our kids as little cash cows? I recently calculated it would cost be the guts of a grand a term to send my 3 to all the “after-school activities” that their teachers are continually pushing on them, cash-in-hand if you please! The proverbial straw was in the form of a “Glee Club” that my daughters were pushed into by their teacher, 60 euros a pop to get rubbish derivative American pseudo-culture pushed down their throats, and this in a supposed Irish-medium school?
“We believe it is educationally regressive. It risks leading us down the road of the English education system.” Riiight, that terrible *English* system. Someone needs to direct the ASTI towards the reality of the English system being superior in Science & Maths: http://ourtimes.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/oecd-education-rankings/

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WorldbyStorm - September 20, 2013

I’m a parent too. If I felt after school or any activities on school property or with the approval of the school, were cash cows for teachers or for anyone holding them, I would feel completely within my rights to request an outline of costs, what conditions they were allowed to take place in, what monies were for and if not satisfied with the answers that would be that, there would be no question of my daughter going. And what about boards of management and other governing bodies, wouldn’t they also have to be notified if anything inappropriate is taking place?

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A Parent - September 21, 2013

All the evidence points to profiteering. For a start the extra activities traditionally done within the school, GAA, debating, drama etc. continue at no cost as before.
(Well not at no cost, obviously the parents pay their taxes which funds the whole show, but no costs imposed at the point of use, which I thought was the whole point of public education)
Whereas the new activities, the Glee Club and the likes, use exactly the same tax-payer provided facilities, yet also charge a substantial fee).
Add to that fact that these new for-profit actitvities are all run by teachers who were never previously involved in extra curricular activities, and all are subject to an extremely “hard sell” campaign by those same teachers. One had my son nearly in tears saying he needed to be in before any of his classmates the next morning with 60 euros in his hand in order to get one of the last few places in the new boxing club … the teacher had told him he’d be the only one from his gang of friends to be left out if the limited places were all gone before he stumped up the cash.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

If you think there’s profiteering go to the responsible authorities in the school. I would.

I genuinely don’t understand why you seem to think there’s nothing you as a parent can do about this if inappropriate classes are being held in the school.

As for ‘hard sells’, so what? Life is full of advertising. Shut it out. If a teacher did what you describe again you’d have every right to take it to the school authorities. That’s what I’d do. No questions asked.

I find your approach here strangely passive to be honest.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

Though just to be clear in relation to my last point, perhaps I misunderstand you, but have you taken your complaint to the school? If so and there’s been no useful response my apologies. But it doesn’t appear from your comments so far on here that you have.

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A Parent - September 21, 2013

“As for ‘hard sells’, so what? Life is full of advertising.” No actually there are all sorts of legal & ethical limitations on high pressure sales techniques in general, and on advertizing when it comes to children, especially when those children form a captive audience for a professional adult acting in loco parentis.
“… you’d have every right to take it to the school authorities.” No chance of that, there would be no surer way of children being victimized. But I’ve been energized by discussion to put together a joint approach to the Minister from a like-minded group of parents aiming to have this extortion stopped and for all.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

““As for ‘hard sells’, so what? Life is full of advertising.” No actually there are all sorts of legal & ethical limitations on high pressure sales techniques in general, and on advertizing when it comes to children, especially when those children form a captive audience for a professional adult acting in loco parentis.”

But that’s precisely my point, if there’s something unethical occurring then you are within your rights to as a start say ‘no’ to that. There’s no onus upon your children to join a boxing or glee club. None at all, and it’s an essential tool of the contemporary period to be able to say no to joining anything that you (or they) feel is inappropriate. Beyond that you have to make a judgement as to how far to go, see below.

“No chance of that, there would be no surer way of children being victimized. But I’ve been energized by discussion to put together a joint approach to the Minister from a like-minded group of parents aiming to have this extortion stopped and for all.”

What sort of school are your children in and what sort of victimization would you expect? The obvious thing would be to first to say ‘no’. Then make an informal approach to discover what are the monies going on, etc, what sort of facilities are afforded, and what sort of pressure (if any) is being placed on students to participate. At that point make contacts with like-minded parents. Make a note of everything that is taking place, date etc. Talk to the ASTI head office. Talk to the Department, in both instances off the record initially. And so on.

I mean, what you’re doing is throwing around accusations of impropriety, but there may be none. And when the obvious response is, you’re not forced, and neither are your children are forced to, and you could actually make enquiries and go further you essentially make further statements about dark outcomes.

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workers republic - September 22, 2013

I agree with Parent, 1st,to make my personal position clear, I have a daughter a teacher and 2 granduncles were also, one a principal. I know how dedicated some teachers are, but not all. The neo- liberal “greed is good” philosophy is pervasive in our society today, teachers are no exception!
My gut instinct would be to go down to the school and have it out with the teacher(s), but my wife would say “don’t make a hostage of the child”, and so would be many mothers. I saw plenty cases of children of friends of mine being victimised by bullying teachers. Roddy Doyle, who was a teacher,had a bullying teacher in one of his TV plays. If we think that all teachers or any other group of workers are perfect, then we are fooling ourselves! Regarding “hard sell”, it’s pretty obvious that hard sells of tobacco and alcohol are killing people, that’d

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workers republic - September 22, 2013

That’s why there’s restrictions on advertising. “Hard Selling” to children, telling them that all their friends are doing it, etc. is grossly unfair to children.The immoral “ethics” of neo-liberalism shouldnot be
manifested in school, it’s bad education.

manifested in school

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WorldbyStorm - September 22, 2013

Just to be clear, I’m not condoning hard sells, but I am saying that people, particularly on the left should insulate themselves as best they can against them, and again children (and adults) should be taught, or learn, to say no. That may not work in all instances but it’s worth keeping in mind. And as I’ve said above, if this is an actual as distinct from perceived problem, and again the details here are very fuzzy and open to subjective interpretation, then it is absolutely correct to get together with other parents, and/or school authorities to ensure that schools are as free from coercion as is humanly possible.

Finally, I’m far from uncritical about education or teaching – as it happened I spent a fair bit of two years training to be one at second level many years back, and I’ve no illusions as to the virtues and flaws of the area – but having asked around I’m not hearing too much evidence that profiteering is a widespread problem. Could be wrong, but that’s what I’m hearing back.

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CMK - September 21, 2013

‘Profiteering’? Are you serious. Could it not be overstretched schools trying to raise much needed funds or to make up budget shortfalls. My kids’ school engage in all these activities with the kids out of the prefabs and in to an actual bricks and mortar school. Has anyone ever seen a prefab school in a European country? I think it’s a uniquely Itish pjenomena

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

Good point CMK, it’s an interesting story A Parent offers us, but because we’re getting such a partial view of it I don’t know what to make of it. Where does the money go? That’s the crucial point. If it’s openly a class run for profit then that’s one thing (though I’m a bit dubious about school property being used for same), but if it’s for fund-raising well that’s a different ball game entirely.

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CMK - September 21, 2013

From what I can see many schools are constantly fundraising just to keep pace with the complexity of educating children. I’m glad ASTI members are standing up, but know they will be shamelessly pillioried by the media and the political class. The kinds of people who think the class homogeneity of their own kids’ (private, feepaying) school is standard and couldn’t conceive of the huge task it is teaching kids from all over the world, many who don’t speak English, as a first language. An ASTI stike is going to be a gruesome experience and they can count on zero solidarity from other unions. ASTI members have spat into the partnership soup and the other unions will make sure they suffer.

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A Parent - September 21, 2013

“‘Profiteering’? Are you serious. Could it not be overstretched schools trying to raise much needed funds or to make up budget shortfalls.”
My kids’ school fund raises *all* the time, but is entirely legitimate and entirely different … it is made abundantly clear from the outset that the pub quiz, Christmas Fair, fashion show or whatever is in aid of the school building or maintenance fund, the Coiste na d’Tuismitheoiri is always involved, there are multiple parents, staff and board of management members looking after the cash raised to ensure all is above board.
On the other hand, I’m talking about activities organized by individual teachers, with no imprimatur from the Cnad’T or BoM.
As to the dubiousness about school property being used, it’s eiher that or there’s child abduction going on, as we parents were never asked for permission for the kids to be taken off school property. Stumping up the cash was the start and end of our involvement.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

The other interpretation is this.

These teachers were asked to do something by the students outside the normal core events provided free gratis and for nothing after hours. They are giving up their free time, it’s not clearly linked to the school curricula or even normal extra curricular activities, therefore they do it but they need numbers, and some recompense (by the way, just thinking €60 for each student for a series of evenings isn’t going to bring in massive amounts of money to a teacher, and nothing like an hourly rate, taxable or not).

I just don’t know, and seeing how vague you are it would appear you don’t either, but for all the caveats I raise in relation to your comments so far I’d agree there would be a problem with anything that seems too financially oriented, even if that wasn’t the key motivation, taking place on school property. And absolutely would be against any coercion in relation to children having to attend.

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A Parent - September 22, 2013

“these teachers were asked to do something by the students” … is that an interpretation or an invention? Why do you think the pupils asked their teachers for these after-school activities? Not on the basis of anything I’ve written.
“€60 for each student for a series of evenings” … again, you’re just making stuff up here. There are no evening activities, it’s all in the afternoon time, during the normal workday. For the typical timeslot for Glee Clud is 4pm-4.45pm.
“and some recompense … isn’t going to bring in massive amounts of money to a teacher” … there are 20 kids in Glee Club, all paying 60 euros for 10 weeks, works out an hourly rate of 150 euros. Some recompense indeed.

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WorldbyStorm - September 22, 2013

“these teachers were asked to do something by the students” … is that an interpretation or an invention? Why do you think the pupils asked their teachers for these after-school activities? Not on the basis of anything I’ve written.
“€60 for each student for a series of evenings” … again, you’re just making stuff up here. There are no evening activities, it’s all in the afternoon time, during the normal workday. For the typical timeslot for Glee Clud is 4pm-4.45pm.
“and some recompense … isn’t going to bring in massive amounts of money to a teacher” … there are 20 kids in Glee Club, all paying 60 euros for 10 weeks, works out an hourly rate of 150 euros. Some recompense indeed.

Read precisely what I said.

You offered an interpretation of the outline of events as suggested by you. You’ve offered a malign interpretation, and few details to be honest, and I’m offering you another interpretation. I’m not ‘making things up’, or ‘inventing’ them, I’m offering another possible interpretation of the outline you set out but stripping away the malign stuff.

And I’m saying that for all you or I know some students asked for these clubs to be held. Do you know for sure they didn’t? You haven’t said and how would you know for sure given that you haven’t followed this up with the teachers in question?

I also said that I didn’t know if either your interpretation or mine was the actuality, and how could I, having to take your account as the basis for an extrapolation of possible events.

As to evenings/late afternoons, you know precisely what I’m getting at, it’s after school hours, that’s the key issue.
And as for the payment, well you didn’t previously give any indication of how long a class was, or how many students were in it or indeed anything to be honest, indeed you’ve been very coy about offering any details hitherto.

€60 seems excessive in light of the figures you give, and frankly the time seems short, and I sure as hell wouldn’t allow a kid of mine to attend it, but for all you or I know, and again you haven’t bothered to go enquire about the facts of the matter so there’s a massive deficit of information here, there could be some rental owed to the school for fundraising, or who knows what. I’ve said before I’d be very leery about school property being used out of hours for profit making purposes, but that by the way would be an issue of policy made by the school itself which is the obvious place to go.

To be honest this is a pointless discussion for two reasons, you’re being far too partial in sharing what little information you have, and you haven’t done anything to discover, at least to date, the broader context, so I’m sure you’ll understand I’ll reserve judgement on ‘profiteering’ etc until you return with more information. And as I’ve already noted above, if there is any issue of that I’d be 100% with you.

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A Parent - September 26, 2013

My, my, you do have quite the dishonest debating style, don’t you?
Presenting an invented scenario as an interpretation of the known facts, expecting a negative to be proven (“Do you know for sure they didn’t?”), mispresenting afternoon as evening then shifting the appearance of dishonesty onto me (“you know precisely what I’m getting at”), generally projecting malign-ness onto anyone who disagrees with you.
Seems the leftwing in this country don’t really object to privatized education on principle.
It’s more a case of just wanting their cut. Limiting educational opportunities to those children who’s parents can afford it is seemingly fine as long as the money is channelled into “some recompense ” for a fellow union member.

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WorldbyStorm - September 26, 2013

No, I don’t have a dishonest debating style. If anything that tag could be attached to you.

You gave an outline of events as you saw them, without for example offering key facts as to time and cost, and before you gave those facts, I gave an alternative interpretation given what few details you had offered. I didn’t know if it was afternoon or evening, my assumption was that it was later rather than earlier, but that’s not a misrepresentation, it’s just an assumption with absolutely no import at all in the context of the discussion. I also noted that it was just an interpretation and that I didn’t know whether it was correct or not. But my basic and blindingly obvious point was that a series of events can have malign or benign interpretations, and that you hadn’t bothered investigating them, something you yourself admitted to earlier.

As for expecting negatives to be proven, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask someone making allegations about others online to have the simple courtesy to us here to make at least some slight effort to find out all the facts possible before repeating those allegations.

And as to whether I agree to privatised education, well, two also obvious thoughts, these aren’t curriculum based, so that per se isn’t the issue – any more than sending a kid to dancing classes or swimming is ‘privatised education’ as such, but secondly clearly you haven’t bothered to read a single word I’ve written where I’ve stated that I would be deeply troubled if school property has been used for classes run for profit and that if your initial allegation was confirmed I’d be 100% with you that it was a disgrace.

So much easier, isn’t it, to take a pop at me (and teachers, which by the way I’m not, and “union” members), for asking that that most simple of things, basic facts be investigated and provided when making allegations here, rather than actually going out and finding what they are?

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5. Ian - September 20, 2013

Yeah, I think IEL has it the wrong way round. ASTI represents the voluntary and fee-charging school sector. TUI represents the VEC and IoT sector in the main.

In terms of education politics, I think the ASTI are in a difficult position. The INTO and TUI are now both inside the tent.

Also, it’s slightly amusing to hear the ASTI liken the Junior Cycle reform to an English style education reform when it’s clear the current system of rote learning only favours the elite and academically minded in this country. Michael Gove, a thatcherite Tory, is trying to steer the English curriculum back to precisely this outdated model of teaching and yet Irish teachers heap praise on this initiative.

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Chet Carter - September 20, 2013

Ian, I am no fan of Rupert Murdoch’s gimp, Michael Gove, but working class kids can be academically minded as well. It is generally accepted that it is a good thing that young children do a certain amount of rote learning including learning time tables.

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A Parent - September 20, 2013

Generally accepted by who exactly?
Rote learning has close to zero educational value in the modern world.
It is simply the last refuge of the lazy teacher.

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ivorthorne - September 21, 2013

Letters, numbers, phonics, the motor movements involved in writing, speech production, maths tables etc. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with rote learning the dates of historical events.

The problem with “rote learning” is that it should be used for teaching component skills required for “higher” processes. Taking the example of letters, it is only meaningful if the student later goes on to learn how to read words and sentences. Taking the example of historical dates, it is only useful in that it helps the student understand the context and sequence of events.

The problems we have with the junior and leaving cert level are something different entirely. Teachers teach for the exam and students regurgitate entire chunks of text books without any real understanding of what they are saying. Understanding isn’t required, The motivation for both teaching and learning is wrong.

Exams are supposed to assess what skills the students have mastered. Our exams only assess the ability of teachers and students to teach to the marking scheme of the assessment.

In France, if you ask for a “pomme”, you get an apple. In an Irish school, if you ask for a “pomme”, you get a tick or a star or an A. Why would you expect the student to maintain the skill when they no longer need ticks, stars or As.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

+1 Ivor, that’s it precisely. In and of itself it’s little or no use and doesn’t assure anything.

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6to5against - September 21, 2013

It is often asserted that in Irish schools we focus on rote learning and teaching to the exam, and yet I never see any attempt to quantify this, or to compare it meaningfully with other countries.

I am a teacher and, speaking from my own experience, it just doesn’t ring true. I use the exam as a motivator for learning, and I use exam questions as learning tools. That it serves both an educational aim and also helps students hone their exam skills is all to the good as far as I am concerned. And exams are part of all school systems.

In my subjects, rote learning is almost futile anyway. It could only help a student to a score of 20% in an exam.

I don’t I am uniquely virtuous. In chats with my colleagues, there is almost never a mention of rote learning, beyond our frustrations with studetns who seem to expect it – having perhaps gleamed their expectations from the emdia

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

Perhaps there’s a confusion here, that people are trying to map rote learning, which is appropriate in primary schools in a range of areas and perhaps to some extent but less so in secondary school, onto all education assuming that it’s the only way forward, when it clearly isn’t?

I mean it would be very useful if Chet explained where he thinks the deficit actually is in terms of rote learning, at what stages and in what subjects.

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workers republic - September 22, 2013

Calculators are useful tools,,but we should not be dependent on them. I’m often seeing cases where people can’t do simple maths, can’t add,subtract, multiply or divide! Many’s the time I’d have gotten the wrong change if I hadn’t done a mental tot ! I learned tables as Gaeilge, and that’s how I remember them. On working things out with biro and paper basic facts memorized, like 12.5%=1/8; W=VxI or IxIxR mak
it easy . Clear legible writing is an
essential skil, in the physical as well as

the abstract sense.Basic facts skill are the foundation for a good education.

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WorldbyStorm - September 22, 2013

Agree, these are important. Typing too.

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Tomboktu - September 22, 2013

Typing too.

🙂

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CMK - September 22, 2013

Learned to type when I was 19 as part of a legal secretaries course. Best thing I ever learned. Anyone who works all day on a computer would do well to learn to type properly; two fingered typing is almost barbarous when a nine month course a couple of hours per week gives you all the skills necessary. Typing should be on the secondary school curriculum, in my view.

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WorldbyStorm - September 22, 2013

+1 CMK. It’s absolutely essential to communicate. And I’d agree, perhaps the single most important skill I learned in the last twenty years. I learned through one of those Mavis Beacon apps. I’d make no claims to my numeric inputs but for words I’m fast. I’d also argue that it allows one to write exactly what one is thinking (okay, that can be bad in online contexts sometimes 🙂 ) which is incredibly handy.

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CMK - September 22, 2013

I find it amazing that a person could enhance their entire experience of the internet etc by mastering a 19th century skill. I think Karl Marx would appreciate the irony. Alas, typing skills may have met their match with mobiles, smartphones and iPads etc *types this with two thumbs on smartphone*.

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6. Chet Carter - September 20, 2013

ERRR no, lazy teachers let the kids do their own thing because like teaching them things is so fascist maaaaan.

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WorldbyStorm - September 20, 2013

After the ‘reforms’ of the last twenty odd years or more in the UK I wonder how many teachers would take that line? Aldo there’s a difference between being dubious about rote learning and seeing the only alternative as laissez faire sub hippy stuff. Finally how is rote academic?

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7. levdavidovic - September 20, 2013

The provenance of this press release deserves comment.

The same people, al five of them, who constitute ASTI Fightback have amongst them members who advocated not putting the issue to a ballot at all at a recent CEC meeting because, I paraphrase, members don’t understand the issues.
Then the same voice was heard asking the CEC to reject a call for industrial action if we secured a no vote, presumably because they felt members couldn’t be trust to take such action properly. Now they have the cheek to suggest this result is a victory for their narrow and anti democratic agenda? I laughed long and hard.

This is a victory for teachers in schools who have stayed quiet long enough at the attacks on the professionalism, on the their most vulnerable young members and on the education they strive to provide to kids who need it be raised up from the depths to which our idiotic politicians sink us. A victory too for teachers who refuse to be on call for the equivalent of two extra weeks work annually, not for pretend Larkinites, but for actual workers.

It is not a victory for the tiny cabal of ASTI members who, while claiming to lead, never get elected to a position of leadership, or make a positive pronouncement on any action the union takes until they can falsely call it their own. They don’t trust members and will without doubt end this period of action we now embark on decrying ‘the weak leaders’ for some perceived sellout.

This is a union that is led by its members, not by splitters.

In the land of Fightback, Dr No is king.

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8. Chet Carter - September 21, 2013

WbS, I am not aware of any child who does not know their maths time tables backwards who goes on to progress to higher level mathematics. Similiarly, there are elements of rote learning involved in helping children to be self sufficient readers at an early age. Any parent know this by sitting down with their kid and helping them decode words through repeating sounds until they are second nature. But for all parents who want a progressive education for their kids this guy seems pretty good.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

But that’s not quite what I’m getting at. I’ve not suggested there’s no place for rote learning, naturally with alphabets, certain aspects of numeracy and so on it is a component of education. I’m just curious as to how it per se is a step forward for the ‘academic’ (a definition I’m also curious about as to what it actually means).

Moreover I’ve just taken a look at the UK school curriculum pre existing Gove and it appears that an element go rote long precedes Gove, such as times tables etc which are taught at primary level.

Are you sure you’re painting an accurate picture of UK educational approaches in the twenty first century?

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Ciaran - September 21, 2013

In fairness, that did help me remember the structure of a haiku!

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9. revolutionaryprogramme - September 21, 2013

Reblogged this on revolutionaryprogramme.

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10. LeftAtTheCross - September 21, 2013

Just on the rote learning. In our household we have one second level teacher (TUI), two teenagers currently in LC and JC years, and a pre-teen in 5th class. The evidence I see in relation to rote learning, apart from the necessary stuff like tables and spelling in primary level, is pretty much confined to the languages where the kids learn off stock answers to exam questions. But it’s far from the totality of what they cover, study, learn. Obviously there is also rote learning in maths and physics and the like in terms of proofs and formulae, but this is a necessary foundation in these subjects, one builds up a picture of such subjects from the bottom up using learnt pieces of knowledge as the bricks from which the next layer of complexity is assembled. Suggesting that such learning is due to lazy teachers misses the point entirely, an apprentice in any field must master the minutae before progressing to the heights of knowledge. It’s a different argument again to correctly state that most people don’t need that type of foundational learning because they won’t progress beyond that level in their lives, which is something which is being addressed by the likes of project maths, however imperfectly.

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ivorthorne - September 21, 2013

At LC English, I’ve seen a lot of “learning off” answers for set texts and learning generic essays that can be tweaked to different themes. Likewise, business studies involves lots of learning definitions (not to mention propaganda). History involves lots of chunking.

And while I use the term lazy frequently in my daily life, it is a perfectly useless term if you are trying to analyse a problem. If someone says a teacher is lazy and you ask them why they think that, they may say that the teacher is lazy because they don’t do x. If you ask them why they think the teacher doesn’t do x, they say it is because they are lazy. It’s an utterly circular and useless argument.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

Exactly, LATC and ivorthorne.

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Chet Carter - September 21, 2013

Exactly LATC. It is irritating when the left associates itself with the liberal concept of child centred learning advocated by Dewey. So over time classroom practise was that teachers were not to impose their knowledge on children but to act as facilitators as children find their own way. Any forced learning is frowned upon. Of course a skilled teacher will be able to determine how much rote learning is needed for each individual child. Kids of contributors on CL will come from an environment of where they are read to, where there are many books in the house, where there is robust debate, where they are encouraged to form opinions, etc. Not all kids will be lucky enough to have this background and they will have to be taught some very basic stuff when they start in school.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

Surely Chet, but I’m seeing this more or less first hand in relation to my daughters education in a school in the inner city in Dublin, and there’s no question in my mind that the basics are being taught in an extremely methodical fashion and given the very varied nature of the backgrounds of those attending the school it’s being pitched just about right for those who have lots of ability and those who have less and no less importantly those who get a push from home and those who don’t.

That is fairly standard, now in the UK it may be different, but I’m deeply dubious that an overly liberal approach is the hallmark of British education. Do you have any evidence of same?

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11. ivorthorne - September 21, 2013

And as for those working at primary level: Good news! Bridges for everyone:

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): he issue of teacher supply is kept under review by my Department. I acknowledge that the various budget measures that have taken place in recent years can limit the employment opportunities for newly qualified teachers. However, there are limits to the number of teaching posts that we can afford to fund as a country.

A number of measures have been taken to alleviate difficulties for new teachers. My Department has directed managerial authorities of schools to recruit unemployed teachers ahead of retired ones, in an effort to ease the difficulties for those who cannot find work in the profession. In addition, the JobBridge National Internship Scheme can provide newly qualified teachers with opportunities to gain experience and to undertake the necessary teaching duties to complete the process of probation.

The Teaching Council is the body with statutory responsibility for the procedures and criteria for the probation of teachers including periods of probation. In recent years, the minimum service requirement for probation purposes has been decreased from 170 days to 100 days. A newly qualified teacher who may not be able to complete the probationary requirements within the period specified by the Teaching Council may apply to the Council for an extension to the period allowed.

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2013091900053?opendocument#WRG01550

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12. crocodile - September 21, 2013

Re the ‘lazy’ teacher: the Leaving Cert English course, for example, has a list of about 50 novels, plays, etc that changes substantially every year. You’d think that teachers would welcome this variety, a chance to explore new, exciting texts with students, rather than re-hash the same old chestnuts. You’d be wrong, though. Students and parents want notes, handouts, the tried and trusted – so it’s back to the filing cabinet for last year’s photocopies.
A rep for an educational publisher told me the astonishing fact that, in a system that allows teachers to choose their own novel to teach for Junior Cert, over 80% of Irish pupils study the same book, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Laziness? I don’t think so. Everyone knows what the state exam markers want and it would be too risky to try something different.
Interesting, BTW, that it’s the TUI, usually with a more leftward self-image than the ASTI, that has accepted Haddington Rd. The reason, I suppose, is that the ASTI leadership recommended rejection while the TUI’s made no recommendation.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

The way it was put to me re the TUI was that the options were either Haddington Road or de facto a pay cut.

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6to5against - September 21, 2013

The intersting thing is how this can now proceed. How can TUI members be inside an agreement when ASTI members are outside it, often in the same school.

The dept has yet to implement the extra hours involved, though it has already cut pay. If they implement them next week, who does these hours and who does not? if supervision systems are not in place, a school can not open – this happened before in 2001.

The IT this morning suggested that the TUI would provide a list of its members to the DES. Would it do that? How dangerous a precendent would that be? And where would it leave non-union members.

Another issue is redeployment, which is part of HR, but nor FEMPI. could there really be a situation where some teachers are made redundant while their colleagues are redeployed, purely due to membership of a union?

I really don’t know where this goes from here. I suspect everybody involved wants the schools to stay open and to avoid unneccesary conflict. But this could quickly spiral out of control.

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WorldbyStorm - September 21, 2013

I have the feeling the VEC’s have implemented the extra hours anyhow already, but I could be wrong.

I think your last paragraph is spot on.

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crocodile - September 21, 2013

An ASTI member on the other end of my sofa reports that in at least one school people were voting ‘no’ to Haddington Rd and also ‘no’ to giving the ASTI leadership carte blanche to instigate industrial action.

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CMK - September 21, 2013

Eh, public sector employers are already looking for lists of members from unions so as to apply the different T&Cs for non-union members in HRA. I know of one case where the union is co-operating with this. HRA was the public sector’s ‘miner’s strike’ moment. A colosstal defeat; with the terms of the agreement actively sundering worker solidarity and, as a consequence, trade unionism itself.

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ivorthorne - September 21, 2013

That’s pretty disgusting. Can you name the union? Don’t worry if you can’t.

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CMK - September 21, 2013

Don’t want to say yet. It will come out soon enough.

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Jim Monaghan - September 21, 2013

“Students and parents want notes, handouts,”. I don’t recall being asked my opinion one way or another and I had 3 kids go through the system. AFAIK even parent reps have no say in this.

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Sean (@SeanDeLuain) - September 22, 2013

In most schools those who want handouts etc will make sure to tell you at parent teacher meetings. Notes/handouts are the main way that the private ‘grind’ schools work.

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13. Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » ASTI Fightback statement on the outcome of today’s ballot - September 21, 2013

[…] “From the ASTI Fightback Facebook page: ‘ASTI FIGHTBACK statement on the outcome of today’s ballot. ASTI FIGHTBACK salutes all teachers who have today sent a clear message to the Government/DES that teachers have taken enough …’” (more) […]

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14. Jim Monaghan - September 21, 2013

So ASTI and Dublin bus drivers are now challenging the government. It seems to me that this will be a major fight. If the government backs down then the whole agreement facade unravels.In the past things would be tweaked ( I assume the triple time on Sunday for bus drivers was a similar tweaking). It is a high risk strategy. If ASTI win then the TUI as well as the government are discredited. I am sure Mulvey does not see where a fudge could be done. Funny but the INTO had better cards, you could not have preteen kids wandering the streets.

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Tomboktu - September 21, 2013

It seems to me that this will be a major fight”

I wish I shared that analysis, but with only one union in the schools and SIPTU’s members in Dublin Bus divided, and zero HSE unions, zero local authority unions, and zero civil service unions taking on the government’s cuts agenda, I doubt there is enough support to force the issue to a head.

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Jim Monaghan - September 22, 2013

A major fight for the workers involved. The other unions will wait on the sidelines ( In spite of calls for solidarity from the far left) and the government might force the issue as a warning to all. Remember the destruction of the miners gave industrial peace on the employers terms for decades.
I cannot see Quinn accepting minor guerrilla war in the schools.
This dispute will not close a single factory. Have they a strategy beyond saying NO.

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15. 6to5against - September 21, 2013

best case scenario is that this is a slow burner that doesn’t come to a head, but at least maintains some sense that the orthodoxy is not universally accepted.

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16. Tomboktu - September 24, 2013
irishelectionliterature - September 24, 2013

Thats disgusting stuff from Quinn and the rest of them. Do they even know or care why it was rejected?
From my own dealings it wasn’t just the FEMPI but the bolloxology of the extra 33 hours that caused most to vote against it.
As it stands the FEMPI is in place until 2018 no matter what Union (or indeed no Union) you are in.
So under the industrial action ASTI members will be working for the same pay as their colleagues but not doing the extra 33 hours. The rest of them will be doing the 33 hours on a promise that FEMPI will be lifted in 2018 and increments will no longer be frozen after 2018.

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Jim Monaghan - September 25, 2013

Were there not further cuts imposed in July on those who had not signed up??

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17. Frank Farrell - November 11, 2013

I totally endorse this industrial action and reject the punitive measures dished out by the DES and government against teachers over the past few years. Major salary cuts, teacher recruitment freezes and few opportunities for promotion. Things have got so bad that schools are finding it increasingly difficult to fill vacant principalships …. added to this is the virtual wipe out of the role of the guidance counsellor – I am one by the way – now on top of our main contractual duties they want us to do S and S for free, in addition to Croke park hours and on top of this I as a guidance counsellor am expected to deliver presentations and talks at night to parents on topics ranging from CAO to subject choice to the incoming 1st year info night to mention but a few. It just goes on and on. We have already said no to Haddington road ….. why vote again on the same issue?? It does not make sense…..no means NO.

Minister Quinn needs to be put back in his box. There should be no cooperation with the newly proposed (more like railroaded) JC course and a refusal to engage in any school activities outside of normal school hours …..enough is enough.

If Pat King bends on this one then he needs to be shown the door….he did nothing for guidance counsellors…don’t hold your breath for the rank and file members either!!

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