Monday, September 12, 2005

Time for creative teachers and schools!

Value your own ideas! Posted by Picasa

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.’


Anonymous said...

Getting into Cheap Seats
When I'm channel surfing, the only thing that can make me stop on any of ESPN's channels is either a) the National Spelling Bee, or b) cheerleading competitions.
Love your blog ! I'm bookmarking you!

I have a work at home site/blog. It touches on work at home related stuff.

Check it out if you get time :-)

richnz said...

Maybe the art advisers of the 80's are being replaced by the ICTPD facilitaors of the today. These are people that embrace and use the information technology tools of today to allow children to cultivate their creative abilities and improve and clarify their thinking. This is not a glossy chart on the wall but a real life meaningful transision. Access to knowledge/ art/ news/ blogs? and the ability to communicate are the tools of 2005 and beyond. Teachers harnessing these new tools are the examples we are looking for. Whereas the rush of school administration to harness a SMS is not the smallest fraction of the potential available......

Bruce Hammonds said...

You may be right Rich. There are innovative ICT facilitators. But too often, however, I see little of real student creativity as a result of the new ICT tools - although I am impressed with the student's facility in using the new media.Somtimes it is a victory of process over substance.

So far schools have not changed their cultures dramatically as a result -imagine if ICT was used to develop each learner's talents passions and dreams. We could realize 'personalised learning'!

The ability to communicate with ICT does not always equate to depth of understanding and insight into the needs of a future community that is better for all to live in?

I also prefer well designed presentations rather than 'glossy charts' - an awareness of design/ aesthetics will be an important future skill.

What are SMS?

Rachel Whalley said...

Yes Bruce too often in classrooms the focus is on the ICTs & not the learning it should be supporting - an add on - so they can be seen to be using it & be 'up with the play'. It's not the ability to communicate or the capability of our ICT whiz kids but the quality of what they are doing - in any media or forum. Therein lies the challenge. Being just a little bit of a geek myself I believe that in some instances the tool can lead the learning (though i wouldn't use it as a rule of thumb) some of these new tools are so powerful that there may be a lot of new ways of learning that we haven't even discovered yet.
SMS stands for Student Management Systems - something the MOE wants all schools to be using (& is heavily subsidising just at the moment) - really all about information management & data collection within schools, sometimes between schools & back to the MOE - though they say it will improve learning - I can't quite make the connection there...

Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks for your comments Rachel. ICT mediums are powerful tools and when, authentically used, do make for really powerful learning - the emphasis being on the 'when'.

Often more process than substance!

As for the SMS it all sounds like 'big brother' to me - and a 'big brother' who I don't trust. Will they measure love of learning or go for simplistic data. If so they wIll distort learning yet again.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this SMS 'big brother' thing will get worse if the government is changed? 'National' testing!

Anonymous said...

Labour 'squeeks' in - just! Thank goodness!

Rachel Whalley said...

Yes Bruce & when you talk about Big Brother concerns to anyone in MOE they will just tell you that they don't believe in the Conspiracy Theorists & we shouldn't either. I know I have had this standard answer from a number of them on various occasions. Yet this is a double edged sword & we need to be fully aware of the issues & that a double-edged sword cuts both ways!
Its great to see the comments on your blog but it looks like you're getting a bit of spam too - there is away to fix this. Show you when we do your RSS feed.
Rachel :-)

Bruce Hammonds said...

They don't know about the conspiracy theory pehaps because they are part of the problem.They of course cannot see ( or imagine) this? In the meantime we are led by a lot of nobodys!

Anyway it is not so much an conspiracy theory but a collective tecnocratic 'we know best' mindset they suffer from.