Anonymous or unaccountable?

Here’s an interesting story on the news today. What do you think about parents having a role in the ‘inspection’ of schools?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-15108865

You’d think it might be a good thing at first glance but I’m not so sure.

I have been in schools where the parents are so fiercely kept out you can only wonder what they have to hide. And also schools where the parents are so well integrated into their children’s school life that education becomes a team job where you’re all pulling in the same direction. Which of course it should be.

I generally feel that parents know whether they’re child is thriving, happy and learning or not, which they should be during their school life. Those parents that are interested and involved, that is. And I also think it’s important that when there’s a problem, which there probably will be at some point, then parents should be able to discuss it, have the opportunity to air their views and have them respected.

But it doesn’t always work as sweetly as that unfortunately. Not all parents are reasonable. Not all schools are reasonable. And not all kids are reasonable either! Get a mix of the three of those together and it can be a nightmare of an atmosphere in schools.

But the idea of an opportunity to put comments online about schools and teachers anonymously is entirely suspicious. This goes for the whole of the web. If you have something you want to say, that you feel is worth saying, that will contribute something positive, then why would it need to be anonymous? And if it doesn’t fulfil those criteria then maybe folks shouldn’t be commenting.

Making it easy for people to remain unaccountable for their actions and their remarks by anonymity allows people to abdicate responsibility for them. I know there are issues that can be sensitive and difficult to confront. But perhaps we need to be encouraging openness and courage and practising the skills to deal with them. Rather than encouraging what could turn into a witch hunt.

Teachers are up against it in schools. They are caught between the parents and the government and it’s the children who are getting squeezed. These days they are trying to teach many children who haven’t been parented in a way that makes them teachable. Anyone who hasn’t actually done it can truly understand a teacher’s burden.

But equally there are teachers who do a poor job. However, anonymous online bitching will not make them better teachers. It will create resentment which will impact on the kids. And it will just turn more and more genuine people away from the profession out of fear.

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