Teaching, dreams, scars, graphic design and politics!

My friends and ex colleagues will fall about laughing when they hear of last night’s somewhat bizarre dream ! As everyone in the western world is probably all too aware – the Olympics are on – what they might not be aware of is the fact that there is a NEW SPORT. In my dream, I was looking at a selection of work belonging to my ex students and feeling very disheartened because the standard was not as good as I would expect  – particularly for this new sport of “GRAPHIC DESIGN” !! As I looked through the work I was getting more and more frustrated by the lack of quality, the poorly developed ideas and the general low standard of execution ! As a retired teacher of “A Level” graphic design this was an all too familiar reality and it’s clearly left its mark !

In the UK, the exam boards, for creative subjects, do very little for the money they charge the respective colleges. All the marking of coursework and even exam work is done “in-house” by the teachers, which puts a lot of pressure and stress firmly on the shoulders of the staff and not the exam board. Due to the level of funding being cut year on year, colleges have to enrol very weak and often quite unsuitable candidates, as each candidate equates to a large dollop of money – so in conclusion, to make up a huge short-fall in funding, if the admissions tutors can see tangible signs of breathing, they will admit a prospective student – however weak their portfolio of GCSE’s might be. The consequence of this is, that in the public sector, teachers spend a lot of their valuable time hot-housing  these weak students – sometimes at the expense of their more talented peers. The state of education in the UK is getting absurd – the government seem to have a mission to drive it into the ground, so that like the National Health Service, it will be replaced by the corporate sector. I digress, I am not really a political animal but sometimes I just can’t help myself !!

What I have been trying to say is that the scars run deep ! I have several friends who have recurring nightmares in May and June every year, whereby they are sitting in an exam-room and are about to do an exam that they have not prepared for and are beginning to sweat and panic about the results. Some of my older friends haven’t sat an exam for forty years or more and yet every year the exam dream rears its ugly head ! As a teacher, the reality is that the stress of exams is magnified and every year the pressure to get good results takes its toll ! I thought I had got over the last round of interminable marking, internal verification and external moderation but all this and the Olympics have clearly been on my mind for far too long and the only release was last nights dream and the new “sport of Graphic Design” ! I guess the dream was triggered by the fact that the results will be published in the next couple of weeks and that’s when the number crunching and the recriminations start – I’M SO GLAD I RETIRED FROM TEACHING !

About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator

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