The following blog post by an Irish secondary school English teacher explains why he and his colleagues are on strike today:

Change. It’s all about change. Let’s talk about change.

The world is changing, we are told. Thanks for the heads up! The Irish education system needs to change too. No argument from me there, but anybody who actually teaches teenagers every day will tell you that change is everywhere in schools. Take my classroom: in the twenty years I’ve been dispensing wisdom it’s change a hundred times. The desks have changed, the blackboard became a whiteboard, we got a fire door, and I got technology. When I think about my own secondary education I think chalk and talk and that was still the way when I started but something else clicked for teachers over that time, my methodology has morphed from standing at the blackboard and telling the kids the story, to listening to what they say and letting them do the storytelling. This reform will mean re-placing the barrier between teach and student, creating the distance necessary to mark their work ourselves is a change we don’t want.

We go on strike because we want change, but not this change.

Protecting the student/teacher relationship:
Kids are already the communicative, involved, adept, sharp and worldly citizens we need them to be, no amount of tinkering with the education system will kill that or make it more evident, they’re kids, they’re not guinea pigs or robots. And teachers know them as well as most do. How can we take account of this knowing if we move from guiding them to judging them, from being proponents to evaluators?

We go on strike because changing the teacher pupil relationship is a change too far.

It’s a half-baked reform:
This reform needs to be exactly right, half baking something, as any home economics teachers will tell you will not get you an A, same with education reform. Good intentions are one thing, good policy is another. If teachers were to accept the current proposal from the Minister, the details would be unknown and liable to cause further rancour down the road. We don’t just know what moderation looks like, we don’t have training in how to do any of this. Here’s a picture of what this reform is like…

(pretty to look, sweet to the taste, but a bellyache after a full tub)

We go on strike because anything less than the right change at the right time is wrong.

Educational tourism:
I’m tired of ‘international best practice’ and the phrase ‘not fit for purpose': Ireland is unique, let’s devise a system that meets our social and economic needs without referring to Finland, England or Queensland.  Instead of cutting and pasting inviting ideas from other countries, couldn’t we just try to build the best education system here using what we know we want and what research here shows is doable?

We go on strike because someone else change is not necessarily the right change for us.

Any chance of some help over here:
The government is in ‘listening mode’? Listen to this: Consultation, training, resources, investment. Where’s the ‘education partnership’? Where’s the CPD? Where’s the detail on workload? Where are the resources for, and investment in change for schools? Not to mention the joke of ‘whole school guidance’ and the lack of psychological services. Or the cuts to special needs provision. Come to think of it, has this government invested in anything? Certainly not in teachers, most especially not in new teachers.

We go on strike because we know that this change continues the trend to cutting back on, not investing in education.

Nobody wants to go back, teachers aren’t change haters, we are on board with the need for reform. But we’ve been pushed and pushed and this is the wrong change at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

We go on strike because we know good isn’t good enough, better is possible, best is all our students deserve.

By Fintan O'Mahoney and reproduced with his kind permission