When I was a child I enjoyed the more mundane activities at school such as copying from a board, completing a worksheet and being lectured. I always knew what was expected of me during activities such as these and I could see the point.
At least I thought I could see the point.
My educational philosophy has changed significantly since I was at school. In fact when I entered the teaching profession eight years ago I think I retained some of my beliefs about ‘what made effective teaching’. I say teaching because I never considered ‘learning’ when I was at school. As far as I was concerned school was for teachers to teach and students to sit silently and listen, copy or work.
When I tell people I am a teacher I get a lot of different responses. Some people tell me how wonderful the job must be, some tell me they could not teach and others rant about how “things were different in my day” and “teachers were respected in the old days, children are too mouthy these days”.
People always have an opinion about education. I think some people believe that going to school gives them the right to consider their opinion as fact.
Over the past few years Joe has made me think about what education could be. He has also taught me about what education might not be. Joe has shown me that when there is an opportunity to ask him a question, there is a chance to learn. I now focus primarily on learning. If my teaching inhibits learning, then I change my approach.
In the media when exams are discussed, it sometimes seems that qualifications are the holy grail of education…perhaps they are.
However, what about the student that will never sit an exam? What about those students that might sit a couple of exams and defy all the odds and achieve a grade?
What do we consider important?
‘Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid’.
I believe exams can form part of a student’s education but other attributes require the same celebration and nurturing. Some of these skills are determination, kindness, acceptance of others and social skills. Some students might have lower starting points compared to their peers. That does not matter.
I do not care about a student’s starting point (just a figure of speech), instead I passionately care about their progress relative to their starting point.
The A* grade student aspiring to study Classics at Cambridge deserves as much of my time as a student who is learning to brush their teeth at the same age. It could be that the student learning to brush their teeth has achieved far more than the prospective Cambridge student relative to their starting point. I hope the parents of the students I teach are aware that their children do not ‘rank below’ anybody else in my mind.
My wife would suggest that I am somewhat obsessed with my job. I would agree.
Part of the reason I believe these things, are thanks to Joe. Joe has taught me that learning can take place anywhere. Often the best learning is done outside of the classroom at random times. Often learning is messy, and involves something as funny as the game Pie Face and being covered in cream.
I feel so strongly about the beauty of learning that I would love to home-school Oliver. However, I am not sure my wife would like me hanging around the house in the day…She would also not approve of the use of football statistics when learning about Maths…which would feature heavily in my Maths curriculum.