Here is my latest conundrum: what role does consistency play in Education today? Where is the future for consistency?
Sparked by an observation made by a friend (another teacher) I have been thinking about consistency. He was disappointed with the lack of consistency he witnessed in the dealings with some students. Shouldn’t we, as teachers, as a school, be a beacon of fairness, equality and consistency to all – modelling the society we would like to live in?
Especially troubled students, where the teachers and the school would be the only institutions in their life to ever treat them consistently, should experience that the same rules apply to all… or should they?
By attempting to apply the same set of rules to students who live in a world with unclear and often lacking rules, are we putting ourselves on the wrong foot from the onset? When trying to “make” these students follow the same rules as all others – are we immediately lining ourselves up for an argument where they are, potentially, antagonising with us rather than engaging with us? Do we need to find some common ground first and then, once the dialogue is established, try and bit-by-bit get them to follow one more rule at a time?
How do other students, the vast majority of students in most schools, perceive this from the outside? Are we selling our credibility when turning a blind eye to some while making others follow rules? Can they see that there are bigger issues at work behind the facade when student XYZ can wear nail varnish or non school shoes?
I know the “zero tolerance school” idea is not new and not currently hotly debated and I am not seeing this black and white world of a zero tolerance approach as one of the positions I am putting up for debate here – extreme positions tend to be too vulnerable and also often too removed from the daily reality. I don’t work in a zero tolerance school (nor would I want to) and I believe that most teachers face questions regarding consistency in a variety of shades of grey, hardly ever black or white.
Is the answer to be seen to be consistent, while in actual fact one might not be quite so?
So, I invite you to propose some ideas, shine some light on the issue of consistency, please!