It was stuff to warm the cockles of the coldest of hearts. Mine were positively glowing .
Tough cookies, who previously had been swearing and cussing their teachers, transformed into teachers themselves following a two week ‘study camp’. An interesting irony. The final task, in which the rebels were sent into a primary school to work with infants, was framed as one which would help create empathy in the students for their poor teachers with whom they had battled for so long. In actual fact, the students discovered inner wells of responsibility and maturity that they never knew they had. One even ironed his jeans and managed not to swear for a whole day. ‘Cos of the little kids, innit?
This experience was well good and I would love to do it again. I love working with kids and it’s been a great experience with all you lot [those involved with the TV series]. I’m still the same Kirsty, [it has] just changed little bits about me. My attitude has changed but I still feel the same way in some things. I have grown up and understand that I shouldn’t be doing this [earlier behaviour and attitude to school] or I’ll just f**k up my life totally. And now I want to do something with my life.Phil’s way of teaching was well good – keeps you interested. If school was like the study camp it would definitely be so much better. Now I want to buckle down, get all my GCSEs and go to college to study childcare. Five months ago I didn’t want to do anything. I’ve got a lot of ambition. I just don’t think I realised it until now.’
[Channel 4 site to accompany the programme]
And despite the fact that I have aired my cynical views pretty liberally about this programme (which I still think had the editors rubbing their hands in grim delight at the reality-TV potential, as Beadle himself has acknowledged), the results certainly provided some food for thought.
The stats for students being excluded from school in the UK is stunning, but NZ needn’t rest on its laurels as we have similar concerns over here. What can be done to keep such students “present” and “engaged” in school (MoE Ka Hikitia)?
In an interview about the project, Phil “super teacher” Beadle (English teacher) reduces his approach down to a few simple words: “There’s something brilliant in every human being, you just have to find it and then tell him or her about it. ”
And who could argue with that?