Monday, September 12, 2005
Time for creative teachers and schools!
Value your own ideas!
There was a time, before Tomorrows Schools, when teachers actually thought their own philosophies counted for something! And it was not as if these philosophies came out of thin air – they were crafted by all teachers from their experiences, the experiences of others and their reading.
Most teachers to this day are still inspired by particular teachers who, in their time, had the courage to develop ideas that were often not appreciated by the powers that be – or even their fellow teachers! As Sylvia Ashton Warner, an eccentric pioneer New Zealand creative teacher, once wrote, ‘You can tell a creative teacher, he or she is lying in the corridor with arrow in the back fired by fellow teachers!’
We have to learn once again to celebrate, value and share the ideas of our creative teachers!
Teacher’s philosophies in the past were not always gathered from teacher’s courses but, more often than not, were exchanged over a beer or two on a Friday night! And, as well, they often came from unusual sources – from quiet deep thinkers to eccentric art advisers; people who seem to be able to 'see' into the future! Art advisers in particular were great sources of creative ideas in the early days providing teachers with alternative points of view. They were all the more valuable because, along with other advisers, they traveled from school to school demonstrating lessons and spreading ideas.
This form of organic development was a feature of the sixties and seventies.
Unfortunately such haphazard, but creative word of mouth, means of spreading ideas were replaced by the efficiencies of the imposed standardized curriculums of the nineties, and ‘delivered’ by contractual advisers who lacked the passion of the earlier advisers.
In this new process the 'voice' and professional judgement of the teachers has all but disappeared; everything is now 'delivered'.
The time is now right, as the imposed curriculums falter under their own weight, and as teachers begin to resent the resulting joyless compliance, for a new wave of teacher led creativity.Better still would be groups of school sharing the ideas of their creative teachers.
To begin the process we all need to ask what kind of society or community we want to create? We need to consider how we can tap into the creativity and energy of all our students? Then we need to ask what kinds of schools do we need to create this future vision and, more importantly, what teaching beliefs should underpin such schools? We need to draft out our ideas, put them into practice, and to continually reflect on their value and to make necessary improvements. The future will require continual reinvention.
To find the answers to these idea we need to search both within ourselves, listen to our colleagues, our parents, the students and available worldwide.
Collectively we now know enough that no student need fail but only if we are prepared to change our own minds first
To be successful we must stop relying on outside experts to lead us – we need to learn to take responsibility and work with others so as to control our own destinies. If we don’t someone else will – up to now they have!
As Professor Ivan Snook said, to graduating students of Massey University College of Education:
‘The ability of people to participate in society is dependent on the quality of the education they receive. And this depends, not on large bureaucracies, glossy brochures, curriculum documents, or flowery mission statements, but on the personal qualities of teachers… (in their)... task of helping create the future.’