ways with(out) words: empowerment and motivation

Year One. Real school, therefore: a timetable. Or should I say: picture table?

picture curriculum b

Pictures, too, to monitor the children’s behaviour on a daily basis:

pig or sheep anonymous

Extremely uncomfortable with this idea of classifying naughty children as pigs (whatever their misdemeanour), I’m the sort of mum who would have kicked up a fuss. There’s something ugly here. Insensate. Something remotely Christian which I object to in any classroom, let alone in a multicultural classroom as this one. (Quick look at the timetable: religious education twice a week…). None of the parents appeared to object to this threat of a public stoning; to the threat of their offspring being branded as pigs. I was only visiting. I also wanted to be allowed back into this classroom. I kept my mouth shut. Before leaving the school for good, I did permit myself to ask the teacher to tell me more:

“it really motivates them, for at the end of the week there’s a prize.”

Didn’t the Head ever stroll into the classrooms from time to time, I wondered? Could s/he have overlooked this? I would have loved to sneak into the other classrooms to see if there were pigs and lambs cavorting as institutional corrective measures, whether the other members of staff had devised their own special (better?) means, so that this one here really was but a one-off, an effective one-off (so I’m told) not worth my getting over-sensitive about. My observation periods were restricted to 2 hours per morning. No correct way of entering other classrooms without the teacher’s permission. Without the Head’s permission. Without the parents’ permission. Without a letter first having been addressed to the Ministry of Education explaining the precise scope of my activities. No way, therefore, without getting into some ethical hot water (which I’m probably in already by now). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not into mud-slinging. I am into critical research. There’s a lot of good practice out there; the picture timetable is a wonderful off-task way to orient the children through the week. But as we all know: there can never only be good practice out there. That goes for me too.

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3 thoughts on “ways with(out) words: empowerment and motivation

  1. lyndilamont

    Joan, is this a public school? Religion twice a week is something I’d expect in a private religious school, but not in a state-sponsored school. But I forget that other countries have established religions, unlike the US where we have many very religious people, but no official religion. (Not that Christianity isn’t the dominant religion, but there’s not supposed to be religious education in our public schools.)

    Reply
    1. joanbarbarasimon Post author

      Hi Linda,
      This is a state school. What’s more, there are over 16 different nationalities in this classroom. As my research involved analysing how these first graders were taught to read and write, the scope of my research was limited to sessions in which these skills were actively transmitted. It could well be that the religious education classes covered the main orientations of various religions, or that they went more in the direction of transmitting general ethical values. I have to be careful what I say here and not jump to conclusions. Fact is, two sessions a week for religious education – whatever it may consist of – are on the programme.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: A Song A Day | joanbarbarasimon

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