Dublin’s private Institute of Education is deeply unpopular with the Irish educational establishment - teachers unions, government mandarins, educational quangos etc. Yet, in a country where secondary education is free, ‘The Institute’ will not accept a penny from the government, preferring to charge its student a hefty €7,000 (nearly $10,000) per annum fees. Its discipline is rigid, with simple breaches resulting in expulsion against which there’s no appeal. Underperforming teachers are fired, underperforming students told to leave, and there are no recreational facilities – you’re there to get academic results.
And boy, do they get results! And the graduate students speak of it in glowing terms despite, or is it because of, the strict environment? Diversity? Forget it. The teachers and administrators are selected on ability alone. Students on the basis of a) having the money and b) being prepared to work within the rigid learning environment.
So why their unpopularity with their pedagogical colleagues? Well, for exactly the reasons I listed above! These are the very reasons they’re hated. You see, they’re completely outside the establishment. And refusing the government’s shilling enables them to apply the discipline they believe essential, to avoid getting tied up in bureaucracy, to refuse to have teachers’ unions, to have merely a skeleton crew of administrators, and to focus on results.
Poison to the Establishment.
And the results show up the public system for what it is: Designed and run for the teachers and bureaucrats, not the students.
Which brings me back to the heading on this post. If you want to see what the polar opposite of what the Institute of Education stands for, check out this link which provides us with an understanding of pedagogy at Alabama State.
By the way, I'm reliably informed by my academic friends in the US that the graduation rate at Alabama State is in single figures. Maybe they’re taking the piss out of me, but I wouldn’t be surprised looking at the young scholars in action.