A teacher’s take on rethinking education…
So, following my last two posts – the first in response Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk on ‘how schools kill creativity’, the second regarding his ‘new’ model of education – I’ve been pondering what exactly this means for me, as a teacher, and what it means for my students. Ideas are spinning around in my head such as providing an education based on diversity as all kids are completely different. Why do we focus so greatly on academic talent and celebrate academic achievement? There is a clear ‘hierarchy’ of subjects in schools in which literacy, mathematics and science are on top with the humanities, physical education and visual and performing arts at the bottom. Are we actually discouraging childrens’ natural creative abilities? If education was designed to meet the need of industrialism, why has it changed so little in the last hundred or so years?
I know that I personally am always hoping to provide an education which considers these factors. An education which sees children truly engaged, rather than simply compliant. However, given that I, as a teacher, have so little control over curriculum (what I teach ), my good intentions will only get me so far. I have slightly more control over pedagogy (how I teach) and as such I am able to try to shake things up somewhat, but at the end of the day if my school/system/state/community ‘demands’ that I teacher certain things, as hard as I try, those same old principles will still come through.
Regarding the compliance vs engagement idea I touched on previously, a blog post I read titled ‘What we learn with pleasure, we never forget’ made some excellent points that make me feel a bit better about all this. “Why do we assume that learning only occurs when kids are serious and quiet?… The belief remains strong that learning can only take place when kids are quiet and the work laborious, that any activities where engaged kids seem to be enjoying themselves must be superfluous, and that teachers who make learning fun run the risk of being declared unprofessional. This thinking is having an adverse effect on what kids learn and how they are taught.” So perhaps, at the very least, even if teachers must work with curriculum that is uninspired, outdated (despite constant re-writes) and academia-heavy, we can teach it in a way that is engaging, personalised, and provides opportunities for creativity and learning through a child’s unique talents.
Think about all of the great work that teachers and schools do despite the current dominant model of education… Now think about how fantastic education would be if we were to rethink, not just pedagogy, but curriculum too (and no, I don’t mean the kind of ‘curriculum revolution’ that governments all around the world push particularly at election time, which always ends up being essentially a very expensive re-formatting of the same old content)!
Will we ever see a true revolution in the education?