I have been weighing up the implications of your the Crispin Weston’s post, “Education’s Coming Revolution”, as it poses the question:
“whether it is realistic to expect ordinary teachers, wanting to do an ordinary job, to meet the aspirations of the more ambitious educationalists”.
I have been troubled by this because I recognise the situation where teachers seem able to deliver programmes of learning but do not seem to invent teaching approaches or learning situations based on theoretical concepts or new ideas. I see the reality and I hear people say, “Good teachers are born not made.” I get it but I don’t like it.
Then I read his new post today (Good Lord! Where’s the Digital Literacy) and I agree, taking learning objectives or selected skills and creating irresistible learning opportunities is absolutely the teacher’s job. It should be incumbent on every teacher to see this as their responsibility and to have the appropriate skills to be able to ensure this kind of learning.
Weston recounts a presentation at a NAACE conference where the audience were asked to point out the creativity in the new Key Stage 1 Programme of Study. He suggests that it is the teacher’s role to take the statements and turn them into creative learning opportunities rather than it being enshrined in the objectives.
Any Key Stage 1 teacher who cannot read the programme of study and (a) not want to turn that into something that is engaging and creative for 5-7 year olds and (b) who doesn’t consider what Piaget or the pantheon of child development might offer to the planning process isn’t being the best teacher they can be.
I recognise there may be a shortage of teachers such as this and maybe these skills are rare but I challenge the idea that we have to make do. These staff are degree educated and they demand a professional status and salary. Then why do we not expect the same level of professional development and self study that we would expect of doctors, nurses, lawyers, civil engineers etc. If these are the required skills of teachers then they need to be expected and they need to be supported to be effected.
I’m not sure we can rely on good teachers being born, I think we need to ensure that good teachers are made. This begins with training and professional expectations. Then we all acknowledge that a teacher qualification is only the beginning and after that the learning begins. The current understanding of CPD in schools delivered through staff meetings and one day courses would need to change. Personal reflection, ongoing self study and mentorship would become the tools of change.
This echoes Dylan Wiliam’s view that we, “Love the one you’re with.” The current muscular leadership approach to dispose of every teacher who is currently underperforming has two problems. Firstly, there aren’t a wealth of teachers waiting to take up the positions of those we lose. Secondly, it believes the myth that teachers leave training as finished products that are ready to take up every challenge over the next thirty years. If we challenge this way of thinking then we need to accept that great teachers can be made and we need an approach to ensure this.
I want it all, a high quality curriculum providing creative opportunities and all teachers able to deliver it.