Tuesday, March 22, 2005
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.