Tuesday, 2 March 2010

An Inspector Calls

Education is About Reaching People

I'm an educationalist. Currently, I'm an Education Advisor; previously I served in the classroom, at the chalkface as a teacher; primary, secondary, adult education - I've worked in many differing schools and situations. I still teach when needed though most of my current work is in teacher development. Jokingly, my family and friends say, "a teacher for teachers" - I sometimes use this idea to explain my work.

I do not claim, however, that I am the best teacher and nor are my methods the exclusive way to do the job. I follow some of the tried and tested theory, tied in with my own beliefs about what is right and wrong within a classroom setting and reject a whole load of the temporary fads that are prevalent with a certain brand of education theorists/management-types in education. Mostly, I am led by the heart and the mind, and whilst I judge critically, openly and (hopefully) honestly, I believe in keeping people intact. In education, as in politics or in life in general, it is my belief that it is better to keep people on your side.

There's a moral purpose with regards to the role of education and my personal motto has always been that "Education is About Reaching People".

There's no copyright on that idea - I don't claim to be the only one who feels that way. Education for me is not about test scores, 'ideal' three-part lessons, having the right coloured felt tips in your pencil case or what the inspector thinks following a snapshot of what goes on. Education does not fit into neat patterns and that's precisely why I think that education is about reaching people. For some a quality educational exercise is about teaching women in African villages about basic child nutrition - for others it is about engaging students in a shared/independent learning process.

An Inspector Calls ...

Today the school had a mini internal inspection organised by our education service provider and the ICT department and teacher for whom I am responsible for was considered "good". I should be pleased, and in truth, I am. However, I retain a measured scepticism - one good lesson does not make one a good teacher as a bad lesson does not make a bad teacher.

Remembering this, is key. And this is my advice to school inspectors, whom, as I have written about before, I have some reasons to be cautious of. Ultimately, too many people in "educational" ivory towers lose sight of the facts on the ground. Theory is all well and good, but reality is a different story altogether. For me, once again, if a teacher reaches people, a one-off lesson, whether technically speaking "good" or otherwise, is, in the big picture of eduction, neither here, nor there.

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