Been listening to our Eurovision Song entry for this year – catchy little number, isn’t it? I’ve not caught all the lyrics yet, but it would appear to be sung by a bunch of school-kids complaining about the teachers not being in a good position to teach them because “it’s a long time since they’ve had a teenage life” (more or less).
At first glance this is a very appealing argument – “you’ve got no idea what we’re going through – it’s so easy for you to stand at the front and spout out stuff.” It seems to me that a second glance almost completely demolishes this line of thinking. If we’re talking about education, that is the passing on of knowledge to the next generation and equipping with skills for life, then it seems to be “a long time since a teenage life” is exactly the right qualification.
Don’t get me wrong – I can still remember the angst-ridden depths of teenagedom, and it’s absolutely vital for teachers to build meaningful, understanding relationship with their pupils – but actually a bit of life experience brings a wider perspective; At the end of the day the (at the time) absolute unmitigated diasters and inconsolable heartbreak I had as a young man weren’t that bad in retrospect, and I actually survived them!
One also has to ask the question of whether someone prone to mood-swings, hyperactive sex-drive, “whole world is against me”, “no-one understands me” etc etc is really who you’d want in a position of authority over you? Clearly some young people are more mature than others, and I’m as guilty of stereoptyping as the song-writers, but I think my point is valid.
Of course, then there’s the academic question – the whole point is to learn… Now I’m biased here because I love learning, and on that front really enjoyed school: but actually if you’re going to be taught you want someone to teach you who is (a) passionate about their subject, and (b) studied it in depth themselves. Not very many teenagers have a degree in any subject!
Of course there are poor teachers, who fail to inspire or control the class, and there are poor schools which must be a nightmare to attend. I think the pressures of sex, drugs, and violence are much clearer even then when I was at school. And of course some school-children have extremely difficult personal circumstances. And I am 100% behind peer teaching, especially in a committed and interested group like a Church youth group. I’d go so far as to say I’d be disappointed if members of a (especially older) youth group weren’t leading sessions. But to imagine a school setup with entirely school-age teachers would end up as anything other than Lord of the Flies is very short-sighted, I reckon.
Still, hope we win tomorrow.