Tuesday, 20 January 2015

If I Had My Way...

I imagine that as teachers we have all had the same fantasy. (WHAT? - editor) No. Not the one with the people dressed up as animals. No. The one where someone suddenly bursts into your classroom and tells you that the government has decided that you, and only you, are the Minister for Education that Gotham Albion deserves.

You're thinking about it now, aren't you? You're thinking about your perfect school. About what you would do. So. What would you? Abolish the independent sector? Pay EVERYONE more? Remove the CD borderline?

I've been thinking about this recently. I can't remember who it was, but recently someone who is not involved in teaching asked me what I thought was wrong with teaching. I just had so much to say that I couldn't really come up with a coherent answer. I just pinballed my way around topics, constantly using the words 'of course there is also...' to start sentences. But then I went home, and thought and thought and came to a couple of core ideas, and (unlike my attitude to sandwich fillings) they are by no means revolutionary. It all just hinges around providing the best possible education and experience for as many students as possible. It's a core of parity across the system, not postcode lottery education. It's making sure that no matter what the home life of a student is, school is encouraging, providing and exciting. Is that so revolutionary? Fuck no. I believe that I would struggle to find many teachers that don't want a better situation for their students. It is how people want to go about it that is at odds.

If you involve yourself into the educational twittersphere and voice your opinions adamantly then you will be sure to receive some rebuttal. Someone won't like your opinion on Free School Meals or your plan for Burgerology to be part of the core curriculum. But aren't you just arguing for what you think is best for students? Yes. You are. It's just that the locus of what is best is a fuzzy and indistinct centre. Teachers will argue and they won't back down often because teachers are ratchet spanners: You can push them further and further one way, but they very rarely come back. 

A lot of the 'problem' seems to be that being a teacher has, as an inherent quality, politicisation. Teachers seem to have those awfully sticky things: Views. Some of them even have Opinions. Teachers are messy things built up upon layer and layer of daily sermons. For Cthulu's sake some of them even read things! And not just the METRO! And, therefore, they actually care. Teachers have a real view of their profession. They have ideas about how they would want to run it themselves beyond just identifying the negatives. The thing is, teaching is a lot like politics. Just like politics, it is not that the core ideal is that different; it is all in the nuances of interpretation.

And the point? This isn't a bad thing because it models to students that things aren't clear cut. Teacher's disparate views help everyone. The seemingly petty arguments on process mean that teachers are consistently engaged with the core principle of teaching: Making it count for students. I love that teachers care enough about their profession to rise up on the internet and pseudonymously scream their faces off. A lot of people who read this will probably shake their heads at this, and understandably so. Arguments are counterproductive if all you do is shout.

I love that the profession is so full of ideas about itself that it bleeds them through its eyeballs so keep arguing, please. I beg of you. Don't be shy; you are a teacher, after all. Just know this: The job isn't about you at all. It's not about your ego, or your wealth or your legacy. It is about the kids ego, their wealth, their legacy. And if they follow you and become a teacher too? Well that's their own stupid fault, isn't it?

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