Questionable innovation

Life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Life gives you students, make them teachers. That, at least, is the innovative policy used by Chalfonts school, in the U.K., which has dealt with teacher shortages by paying 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds $10 for each 50-minute class they teach. Generally, the older pupils teach classes of 11- to 16-year-olds. According to The Guardian, "John Bangs, head of education for the National Union of Teachers, said there was ‘every argument for older pupils to mentor younger ones,' but they should not be used as ‘quasi-suppy staff.'" Yes--Gadfly actually agrees with the union on this one. It's unfortunate that Jonathan Clarke, Chalfonts's vice principal, has a staff shortage, and it's too bad that, as he says, his student teachers are actually better than the supply teachers he occasionally receives. But allowing untrained 16-year-olds to teach class is simply a recipe for sour lemonade and uneducated youngsters.

"School pays pupils to fill teaching gaps," by Jessica Shepherd, The Guardian, April 29, 2008

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