Staying away from the ASTI Convention

 

TBH:I HAVE ATTENDED the annual teacher conference for many years but this year I will not be going. I always thought it was important to be there, to get a chance to put my view forward.

At the ASTI Convention you can walk up to the podium and give your view on whatever the motion is, provided you can make your point in three minutes. Some people find this tiresome but I find it democratic.

However, I have learned that getting a motion passed at the convention is no way a victory. It is just ignored. We were all very against the Croke Park deal for many good reasons a few years ago. Convention agreed, a 10 minute central executive meeting was held which also agreed, but then the union accepted the deal anyway.

It has been the same thing with the Teaching Council, the group which regulates the profession. This body – which costs teachers a fortune – is of no great use to the profession; most teachers would like to see the back of it .

But the teacher unions won’t do anything about the Teaching Council.

Many of the teachers who serve on the Teaching Council are nominated either by the unions, but rather than representing us on the council, they represent the Teaching Council to teachers. They are financed by teachers, have a huge surplus of money and pay themselves huge salaries. It is ironic that the body paid for by teachers does not appear to consider the teacher pay scale adequate for their needs. Convention every year complains but, like Croke Park, our complaints are blithely ignored.

I am not going to the convention this year for the above reasons.

I also feel it is time the younger teachers take on the system. There are huge changes taking place, without much thought, which is what got this country into the mess we are in. Things are rushed through without reflection. There are people with their own agendas making decisions which will affect us all for years and there appears to be nobody to check what they are doing.

Convention is asking all the wrong questions. It should look at teaching. What exactly are we teaching? Why are we teaching that? Why are we teaching it this way? What do we expect the students to know?

Do they know it? Do they want to know? Do we develop talent? Do we stifle imagination?

What makes a good teacher? What is the difference between a good teacher and a terrific teacher? Is it the marks they get in their degrees? Is it communication skills? Is it passion? Is it just simple things like turning up on time and being prepared?

These are the questions I would like to see discussed. Until they are, I will stay away.


This column is designed to give a voice to those within the education system who wish to speak out anonymously. Contributions are welcome. Email sflynn@irishtimes.com