The Prog/Trad Exclusion Conundrum

Being the quiet, unassuming person that I am – never one to involve myself with Twitter discourse without a full understanding of the facts… never… – enables me to observe the wide variety of conversations that take place.

A personal favourite of mine, and I use the word favourite ironically, is the trad/prog debate which continues to plague EduTwitter – taking usually sane educators and warping them into… what would my year 5’s say… not nice people! Frequently, my timeline is blocked up with ridiculous debates which, from an outside perspective, are blooming obvious to solve.

For example, exclusions.


“Trads” would suggest, it seems, that all “prog” teachers allow multiple homicides and incidents of arson in their classrooms on a day to day basis. Children are hung from rafters to be pelted with paper aeroplanes, while the teacher desperately tries to find out why the children were doing it.

“Progs” would suggest, it seems, that all “trad” teachers carry around a notebook, in order to write down the names of anyone breaking one of the 7,834,231 non-negotiables that the school has in place. Anyone whose name dared to appear in a notebook would be unceremoniously removed from the school to wallow in the abys that is exclusion.

Guess what? Both of those are wild exaggerations, so far removed from the actual truth that it comes across as satire!

In reality, the exclusion conundrum is simple to solve. The problem is that we need to blur the lines between “trad” and “prog” teaching.

Children that are a danger to themselves or others around them should not be in class. That does not mean they should be immediately excluded, either. There should be steps taken to ensure that the pupil has an opportunity to make a positive change, prior to exclusion.

Pupils who repeatedly cause low-level disruption in the classroom should not be excluded. Find out why they are misbehaving, even if the reason turns out to be “because I wanted to” and deal with it on a case by case basis.

The issue with the whole argument has been that teachers are trying to put all pupils in a one size fits all policy on exclusion. Behaviour, unfortunately, doesn’t work like that.

The exclusion conundrum shows up one of the main foils when it comes to discussion on EduTwitter. The minority that seem to believe that debate is a case of “I’m right and everyone else needs to be proven incorrect.” rather than “Well… fair enough, I can see where you’re coming from.”

If you think that’s referring to you… well… if the boot fits.



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