Education Experts without Expertise

We’ve been having a look at Beeb ed journo Mike Baker’s profile.

Fox & Hedgehog

We note that the “award-winning journalist, author, broadcaster, and consultant, specialising in education” has many skills.

Highly-educated Mike’s bio is, however, lacking one key thing. He has never been a teacher. He’s been to state school – whatever that means – but he’s never been a teacher.

This ‘jack of all trades’ approach to education is seen time and time again. And we have commented on it before.

Education is perhaps the only area of everyday life where – apparently – there are no experts. People are then not only able to comment on education as freely as they wish but they are able to dictate policy or gain influence when the only thing linking them to a multi-billion pound industry is the fact that they went to a state school when they were 11 for a few years.

It is akin to thinking that because you’ve played soccer as a child you have a right to choose the next England manager. Or, you’ve driven over a bridge to work everyday so you’re now an expert on bridges and entitled to say how they are built.

But why? You wouldn’t think a patient could determine their care or a defendant decide how they are tried in a court of law. So why is this okay for education. When you have been trained and have experience of a profession – engineers, doctors, lawyers – then you are in a position to critique. If you are only a spectator then that’s what you should do: spectate.

Mike Baker seems a motivated and committed chap. There are many others. But, and this needs remembering, the true experts in education are those at the coal-face: teachers. That is, it is teachers who have the first-hand knowledge of what goes on and whether the latest innovations will work or not.

Just because you write well or have a First from Oxbridge means nowt. To be qualified to speak, you’ve should have actually been on the shopfloor and earned your wings.

And this is why education policy is such a mess. The people who vote on it i.e. MPs are not teachers so they don’t know what they’re talking about. And the information they get, they get from civil servants who sit at desks in Victoria, London.

The answer: returning control of schools to teachers.

The likelihood: slim.

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