It’s safe to say while originally writing a response to the arguments presented by MP Andrew Laming earlier this week, I was frustrated. I wanted to admonish. I wanted to ridicule, retaliate, to revolt against his arguments, ideas and general lack of understanding.
Then I remembered I am teacher and we aren’t regular kinds of workers or people.
As we say in our school, this is a perfect learning opportunity.
It’s too easy to reduce things to hazy, inhuman numbers. Instead, let’s explore a different perspective of education in the world today (not in the 80s when Mr Laming was last in a full-time role at a school – as a student).
So, without further ado, I think it’s time we kick off our lesson for today.
Boom – let’s get to it!
Our learning intention is to explore a different perspective to build our sense of empathy. Our success criteria in today’s lesson are that we can consider a different, informed perspective, name what a typical teacher may experience and explain how teaching is different from our time as students (from the 80s, like Mr Laming).
Within any classroom we know there are students from a myriad of social and economic backgrounds. Every single one of them can learn and progress. More importantly, the way we see these students, the expectations we hold for their achievement and the collective belief in students’ learning by the teachers of a school have a fundamental impact on student learning.
It literally takes a village to raise a child.
There is no way we can do all of this on our own.
(And based on the current statistics for Victoria, there’s an average of 424 children in each school…that’s a lot of effort needed in each village).
That’s where the magic, power, science and art of teaching emerges. We take core theories, understandings and knowledge that are completely abstract, strengthen it through working in communities of learning professionals… then we make it real to students.
We make all of that stuff out there bloody real.
Seriously, think about all of the ridiculously abstract things you make real every day. Counting. Alphabetical ordering. Trigonometry. Even the value of money (I’m still convinced by Preps that it makes no sense our 50c coin is worth so much less than a $2 coin).
We do all of this while also managing the day to day tasks and expected unexpected interruptions and chaos of yard duties, friendship quarrels, assessments, data analysis, planning, teaching, behaviour management and well timed toilet breaks.
The troops swapping out half way through lunch.
It’s too easy to break things – teachers, schools and students – down into statistics, and numbers. That is the massive disconnect between policy and systems, and schools and classrooms. Whilst some people may be harking back to the industrial revolution and demanding that we still treat education like a factory where workers come in the same clothes, work in rows upon rows, practising the same processes and skills at the same time, we aren’t in the industrial revolution anymore.
We are in a Knowledge Revolution
Each day is different.
Learning is different.
Human brains are wired differently.
Students have the collective knowledge of the whole world at their fingertips. Whilst teachers are still very much often the knowledgeable other in the classroom, the knowledge they are teaching is very, very different. The knowledge we are collectively teaching isn’t just the basics of literacy and numeracy, but also the navigation, innovation and adaptation of skills and understandings to actively engage and thrive in our world so different from the 80s.
Whilst some people may still see school simply as rows, upon rows of workers going through the same processes every day, the reality is different. Even the last ten years have seen the education landscape shift exponentially.
I guess politicians are just catching up. It’s not their fault, they haven’t been taught or learned how different our schools are, how different our neurological understandings are, or how different our evidence base is to improve students’ and teachers’ learning outcomes (I’ll give you a tip, it isn’t treating teaching like any other regular job).
As the Knowledge Revolution continues to cycle, we need those with systemic power and influence to realise their duty is to continually engage with those most affected by their decisions: teachers, students and families.
Whilst politicians do have a responsibility to speak up and share their thoughts, like I have been teaching the 11 and 12 year olds in my class during our learning unit on active citizenship: sometimes the most important part of being an active citizen is stopping and considering the purpose and impact of our actions or words on those affected by them.
Until we have more politicians who really understand, know and breathe the intricacies of current education, discussing their perspectives around hours and needs is fruitless.
I welcome any politician to come into my classroom to help deepen their understandings of learning, just like we ask our students to each day.
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(This week we’re sharing a simple Think Board template that can make a big difference to any spelling or literacy session!)