How many times have you walked along the city pavements and come across banners or notices screamingly advertising the sale of teachers’ schemes of work? Schemes of work sold here! Hurry while stocks last!Yes, schemes of work on sale! Unbelievable but true! Photocopying shops sell hundreds if not thousands of these.
When we were mainstream teachers many years ago, we authored our own schemes of work. There was the scheme book and then the plan book. The marks record book was the third teacher’s ‘identification document.’ These were the lifelines of every classroom practitioner, big and small, new or old in the noble profession. Then came the scheme cum record of work which was one book basically divided into two main columns: I remember it was Maurice Tsododo’s idea. He was a thorough-bred or pedigree educationist in the teaching and learning of English. The scheme side was more of the plan basically consisting of the list of what you wanted to teach unit by unit from day to day. The right side, also the record of work side carried more of the teacher’s progress-monitoring and evaluation.
The scheme cum record of work was where every teacher dutifully and honestly recorded teaching and learning ground covered; what was done, how well or how not-so well. Here he or she also suggested remedial work to be conducted to deal with special challenges experienced. We were proud to create our own road maps towards the intellectual liberations of our students.
We were the authors and makers of our own professional destinies and that of our learners. All teachers put careful thought into the material to be taught, how the teaching and learning would progress, what teaching aids were used, the outcomes observed and if not, what strategies to use to accomplish the set aims and objectives of each lesson. The scheme cum record book was every teacher’s work constitution.
The teaching came from each teacher’s own head, onto the scheme cum record of work and straight into the pupil’s head.
As he or she dutifully prepared work for the school term, every teacher sort of assimilated the content required, researched if needs be, and in the process of drafting the scheme cum record book became a hybrid researcher and critical thinker. Those were the days! Old fashioned, isn’t it?
Today the teachers buy schemes of work in any photocopying shop in town.
You are tempted to think they must be lazy buggers! But no! May be they are just 21st century teachers running with innovativeness. . . smart education. . . teaching made easy! My questions are few but extremely genuine and important. How does a teacher comprehensively master a purchased scheme of work? Is this part of what I have heard people call standardisation? How do you make a garment made by someone else for his or her body fit your size and shape?
How easy or comfortable is it to paddle someone else’s canoe along someone’s journey to his or her own destination? Who is or are the authors of these schemes of work? Are they model schemes drafted by some teaching queen-bee somewhere? How does someone feel telling someone else’s story?
Do education inspectors see these banners along shop pavements screaming ‘SCHEMES SOLD HERE’ or I am the only one who sees them? Is buying a scheme of work legal, let alone professional? Why are education authorities not taking action if this is not legal or allowed? Do they not know?
Have these scheme-buying teachers not been educated or orientated on the advantages of ‘doing’ your own scheme of work? If not I would not mind organising and facilitating a workshop for teachers on the wisdom of ‘doing’ own scheme cum record of work and why teachers must scheme and plan their own work: What buying them means and how it disables a teacher’s confidence and manoeuvring prowess. How buying schemes cheapens the whole idea of teaching and learning and how it means the teacher has no substance to deliver to the learner. How I would not mind facilitating such a workshop without charging one cent!
The issue of buying schemes of work is one. There is another about the same teachers in teacher education institutions hiring experts to write them major assignments and ‘do’ their projects for a fee. I am not sure if beautiful ladies also pay for the same service with the same currency or are privileged with special currency with which to pay for the services rendered.
Why is no one seriously exposing these habits and tendencies cheapening Education in our country? Who does not know that teachers in training colleges today are creating thriving business for those who can write them major assignments and projects?
Look at this! And think of course! A man or woman takes fifteen years to have the required ‘O’ or ‘A’ level passes. Then finally he or she does with Cs. He or she finds a place at a teacher education college after forwarding a khakhi envelope. He or she enrols through a back door. Then the ‘teacher’ in training is in college for one term (three months). For close to two and half years the teacher is away from college at some rustic day school in Muzarabani, Bocha or Mandeya in Honde Valley. He or she comes back to college in the last term of the third year to sit examinations.
The course work of course comes from major assignments and projects written for him or her by a paid mercenary. After that they all graduate and flood the schools as qualified teachers. Well done Zimbabwe! But is that the best that you can do? Is the education sector not supposed to consist of officers, educationists and fundis who should know better? Is this how teachers are made? Is this how good teachers are made for a good country like our own?
When he is in the poor school located ‘in the back of beyond’, what is he or she doing there? Where did he or she learn it? When? Are the qualified teachers in the school, I mean the ones buying schemes of work trained to mentor teachers on attachment?
Who trained them to mentor other teachers on attachment or teaching practice? Are there special courses done by qualified teachers to mentor those on training? If the mentor bought a scheme of work, what does he or she ‘teach’ the student teacher?
When the college lecturers visit the students once in one year, are they not aware all the files they see are full of purchased schemes and paid-for assignments and projects?