Sunday, June 12, 2005

Only super teachers need apply!

We need super teachers! Posted by Hello

There is no doubt that in some situations teaching is a pretty demanding job. Certainly teaching differs greatly from school to school and even one difficult student can test the patience of even the most saintly teacher.

Teacher’s classes these are full of very diverse individuals that would be a big enough challenge even for a ‘super’ teacher. A super teacher is a teacher whose main focus is on developing the talents of all students and assisting them do work of a quality that surprises the learners themselves.

When you add on top of this collection of very diverse, often self centred, individuals the ‘frenzy’ to test every learner exhaustively for literacy and numeracy and to check to make certain you are covering all the strands the curriculum, teaching has been made a super human job! Even if the demands are now only to cover the ‘big ideas’ of the strands of the curriculums you are supposed to be ‘delivering’ it is still an impossible ask for a creative teacher. Creative teachers develop curriculums with the learners they don’t deliver them!

Not only are we obsessed with testing and proving we have covered material there are all the other exiting ‘asks’ of teachers: to introduce the latest ICT; to make use of Bloom’s taxonomy; Costa’s Intelligent Behaviors; de Bono’s hats, this inquiry model; that new approach, this new approach. Then there are portfolios – another good idea turned into a nightmare. All these things can all become 'quick fixes' unless done well. Who has the time these days to all this - teaching has intensified to the speed of light! All these things can result in teachers taking their eyes of the ball – the need to help every student develop their full range of talents and to learn to develop the ‘character’ to become a valuable member of a democratic community.

To be a ‘super’ teacher you need to have a x ray laser like vision to ensure the main thing stays the main thing and not to get caught up in all sorts of energy draining vampire like imposed agendas. To be a ‘super teacher’ you need to develop a powerful belief system and use this to judge the worth of all the things the various experts throw at you. And remember, few of these experts have been nears a real classroom for years – my self included! With a powerful philosophy, and a network of like minded friends (hopefully in the same school)you can then have the courage to do badly what is not worth doing and then do fewer important things well.

Too many teachers have had their power diminished by the ‘kryptonite’ passed down from on high. Shove in it in lead box, escape from the debilitating mundane jobs, recover your passion for teaching, and get on with jumping tall buildings. Teaching is more an act of faith than a measurable science so let’s celebrate the great things we do, share them with others and start to trust out own judgment which has been ‘stolen’ from us by the nasty Ministry technocrats. Lets place the focus back on the artistry of the teacher.

Start as, Emerson wrote, ‘dancing to the beat of your own drum’!


Anonymous said...

Teachers as 'super heroes' - I like the thought. It takes a hero to focus on student creativity and not get distracted by all the Ministry impositions.

Blind rationality has had its day -time to believe in metaphors and myths again.

forsee said...

Hi Bruce

It is with considerable interest that I look at your website.

Your comments point to the problem but in my view do not go far enough.

We need to allow creative destruction, to concentrate on education not schooling. Schools are essentially remnants, the principals are closer to feudal lords than modern technocratic managers consciously encouraging innovation and creativity.
We need to fund the child or adult not the institution. Not big brother knows best, but the person being educated is the customer whose needs are being served, abilities coached.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is there are many great teachers that are not given the credit or support they deserve, especially within the institutions they work in, or in the communities they serve. It is usually only the students that can spot the difference, and then sometimes only after several years of mediocre teaching in other classrooms do they appreciate what they once had.

Bruce said...

Schools, as they are currently structured, are the problem and not the solution, to ensuring all students leave with their talents, passions and dreams identifed and magnified.

Some schools are indeed run as if they were feudal states ( Balkan states at that!) and creative destruction would seem to be the best solution - but hardly possible.

Some way to force schools to listen to the 'voices' of students, rather than impose ideas on them, is required - as Pink Floyd sang, 'we don't want your education we dont want your mind control'.

Placing money with students would only work if there were real creative educational alternatives offered to attract the students.

Only the State can do this if we want to keep democratic values alive - but the state would need to value true democracy in the first place!

Anonymous said...

Our schools reflect to much concern with the false gods of rationality, achievement and measurement of the easily quantified, and not enough with passion and the excitement of real learning. The latter is what 'super teachers' do - the rest of the teachers, and their students, are lost in the futile game of school.

Anonymous said...

Most teachers have long since lost their magic powers due to the weight of nonsense rained down on them from on high!

Change has been like shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic. My advice is rush to the lifeboats but make certain the captain , the engineers and the officers go down with the ship!

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! Down with HMS Ministry and all who bludge off her. Divert all money saved to the front line teachers.

Too many 'deck chair shifters' in Wellington too busy 'feathering their nests' to notice the icebergs they are making!