Originally uploaded by Combined Media
I’ve not watched this before, but caught 20 minutes of it tonight, and it got me thinking.
The premise appears to me that Jamie takes a bunch of underachieving youngsters, puts them in a no-expense-spared environment with celebrity specialists and shows why schools and the current education system are letting young people down.
What I saw was a really engaging lesson with Dr. Robert Winston, a rubbish Drama lesson with a fine act-or, Jamie teaching kids how to cook and Daley Thompson teaching them how to dive.
What I took away from it is that the kind of pupil that underachieves often appreciates practical, vocational topics where there is little if any writing. That great delivery, passion, enthusiasm and manner with the pupils leads to engaging, enjoyable lessons. That if you’re famous you can hug a dripping wet teenage girl in a swimming costume without being called a paedophile and that being great at something might help you to pas that knowledge / passion / understanding to pupils, but without some idea of pedagogy and classroom management it’s far from guaranteed.
The other thing that struck me is that I know Science teachers in real life who take low ability pupils, run amazingly interesting lessons that engage and enthuse the students, but don’t necessarily lead to great exam results (where the reading, the writing… the boring bits are required). The pressure to meet league table targets means that the kind of student who would thrive on a truly vocational course is marginalised and often forced to take subjects that aren’t necessarily going to do him/her any good.
So, Jamie. Yes, you’ve made 1 teacher think about things. But I can’t honestly say there’s anything in there I hadn’t considered already. And I still blame league tables and performance targets for the vast majority of problems in secondary schools.
For a considerably more thought out opinion I can thoroughly recommend @JayeRHill’s blog post on the same subject.