Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Passionate Teachers

Excellent book Posted by Hello

It is really great to hear out of the blue from someone who you never expected to make contact.

It is also amazing to get great feedback about our website, and even to be asked to give advice, worldwide. It certainly is a different world than when I started teaching – our source of information was then restricted to a few local ‘like minds’.

So when Robert Fried made contact with me it was a real thrill because his book, ‘The Passionate Teacher’, has always been one of my favorites, and one of a few that relate to practical classroom activity. As he writes, 'It is good to find a kindred spirit halfway across the world’.

Robert came across our site because he had seen a piece I had written on passionate teaching in which I quoted him! He is going to send me a copy of his second book, ‘The Passionate Learner’. He also has another new book, ‘The Game of School: Why We All Play It; How it hurts Kids’. Coming out in April, it includes what to do to change schools.

Sound like books we all ought to read!

One of his intentions is to rewrite his books using ‘local heroes’ in place of the teachers he highlights. I have never worked out why the ‘powers that be’ do not celebrate the creativity of our teachers. One day ‘someone’ will realize that real change only happens when teachers believe in what they are doing, and more so, when teachers develop their own ideas.

The preface of ‘Passionate Teacher’ says, ‘ We can’t afford keeping sending kids to schools that disrespect the qualities of heart and mind we claim to be promoting’. Robert, quoting John Dewey’s argument, believes ‘that nothing much of lasting value happens in a classroom unless student’s minds are engaged in a way that connects with their experience.’

Student’s ‘voice’, questions, ideas, expressions, research and art, should fill to overflowing, every classroom from the youngest to our senior students. Unfortunately, even in our youngest classes, classrooms seem dominated by the teacher’s curriculum, school requirements, or ministry 'targets' - real teacher and student creativity is not as common as you might think.

Fried believes everyone can be a passionate teacher if teaching is not undermined by the ways we do ‘business’ in schools. His book draws on the ‘voices’, ‘stories’ and interviews with good teachers and is an excellent blend of theory and action.

It is exactly the ‘voices’ of teacher that no one has listened to in New Zealand.

Everyone always knows better than the classroom teacher about teaching but few want to stop and demonstrate their wisdom! Fried talks about ‘less is more’ and ‘doing fewer things well’. That will ring a bell with teachers I have worked with.

This is a book for classroom teachers.

Today 'like minds' can share ideas worldwide - when this power is fully realized it will make a difference! Our site is a part of this worldwide creative revolution. There are other sites to be found on our links page.


Anonymous said...

It is great to see, once again, a focus on the role of the teacher in the learning process. It is very gratifying in particular to see how the importance of the teacher’s ‘voice’ in the teaching process is acknowledged and can be linked with the strength of the child’s 'voice' in their own learning. Teachers that respect and value their student’s unique perspectives and understandings always seem to have the most profound impact. Similarly teachers that are able to share their own unique enthusiasms in the way they teach seem to make more powerful connections with the learners they interact with.

Bruce said...

For too long teachers have been dictated too by people who always seem to know better.

Too many teachers just go along with this myth of the distant expert. Too many just can't see any alternative and many just don't have the time and energy to make a stand!

The key is for groups of teachers to share similar values and ideas about teaching, and better still, groups of schools.

When experts are wrong, as they always are, we all suffer.