Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What is it good for? (Edwin Starr) Part 1

I threw down a bit of a gauntlet at school this week to a distinctly luke warm reaction.

Not only did I support a move away from the old Teacher Parent Student conferences (you know - the ones where only a few of 'the good' parents attend for a 5 minute feel good slot)  towards longer more holistic meetings with form tutors (10 minutes with, ideally, every parent and student in the form class) but...and I couldn't help myself...I also put in a plug for vertical forms.

Shock horror. I know - what was I thinking?

It went down like a cup of cold gravy with a hair in it!

But WHY?

Well I know why. I was messing with the organisational culture of the school. More specifically I was messing with the socialisation of the culture.
  • To explain how socialisation works consider this experiment. A caged group of monkeys is confronted with a bunch of bananas on bungling from the ceiling. There is a ladder placed invitingly just under the bananas. Immediately some monkeys rush to the ladder. As soon as they start to climb it they are all hosed down, not just the monkeys on the ladder but all the monkeys in the cage. As they don’t like water they leave the bananas. One hussy monkey tries again but the same thing happens, all of the monkeys are hosed. Now they watch each other to make sure no one comes near the ladder. Then one monkey is replaced by a new one unaware of ladder-water misery. He sees the bananas and rushes to the ladder, but to his surprise is beaten up by the other monkeys. Now a second monkey is replaced by a new one. He approaches the ladder and is beaten up. The first new monkey who himself had been beaten up participates in the mugging because he wont permit another monkey to do something he himself was not allowed. This continues until all the monkeys are replaced by new monkeys none of them having the experience of being hosed down or even having a faint idea about it. The reason why they wont permit each other to reach for the bananas has become of a metaphysical nature, it is simply not done.

This is the area where I'm a new monkey, a relative outsider and the long standing members of the culture are protective of what they've established over time.

Nevertheless - over the next couple of posts I will be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of horizontal (same year level in the tutor group who may or, usually, may not stay with one tutor during their time at school)  AND vertical forms (a mixture of form levels make up one tutor group who stay with one tutor during their time at school).

First up - horizontals! The status quo. The bunch of bananas in question at Woodford House.

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