What do you do when everything you thought you knew was valuable, and that you think makes you seen as an authority, and that you needed to know when you were growing up… is no longer needed?
How do we continue to teach as we’ve always done, when we know what we are teaching is not what our pupils need to know?
To quote Midnight Oil, How can we dance when our beds are burning?
I keep being impressed by the clarity that Will Richardson brings to the debate on Webblog-ed and elsewhere. He is capable of asking the really uncomfortable questions, whilst at the same time, pointing us at possible solutions.
I’ve previously mentioned that I feel that I’m becoming a more reflective practitioner as a result of my blogging, but what Will Richardson has got me doing is thinking about how much (if at all) my actual teaching has moved on. In his article, he outlines the importance of modeling what we teach… and in that respect, I have taken to blogging like a duck to water and to wikis like a pig to sharn. So is this enough?
One of the things that came out of the East Lothian Extreme Learning meeting on the 25th October, was the idea that we as teachers should attempt to carry out our own projects along the lines of those to be tried with the pupils. I suspect that this aspect of Extreme Learning would meet with Will’s approval!
We cannot keep looking back to a ‘glorious past’ where things were so much better. It is a pointless exercise. So what if (back then) our exams were ‘harder’, if discipline was better, if the skies were bluer and the grass was greener… We are living in the here and now and preparing for the then, and that’s a pretty good place to be.
As I mentioned last week, I was in a position to introduce a number of Perth & Kinross teachers to blogging and wikis. In light of Richardson’s words, I have took look at the small turnout as being, perhaps, symptomatic of the problems that he is talking about. Are we prepared to rethink the way we work to suit the way the world is? Let’s put it this way, if we’re not prepared to change, how can we honestly say we are preparing our pupils’ for their futures?
I think GLOW will have an important role to play here. I think GLOW will change the face of Scottish Education, and very much for the better. It has the potential to make Scottish Education a leader on the world stage… and yes, we could argue the toss about whether there are geographical reasons for this (as indeed the Guardian did on the eve of SETT06), but the truth is that we are on the verge of creating the world’s first national online learning resource… and that is something we can be, and should be, incredibly proud of… but will it be enough?
If I’m honest, I don’t really think so. It is, as Will Richardson has challenged us, up to the educators to put aside the old regime. We cannot sit safe in our comfort zones. We have to get out there and learn to learn again, because only then can we be engaged in the debate.
As a final thought for the teachers out there. When you go into your classroom tomorrow, what are you going to teach? Something you’ve taught before or something new? Why not go in there and – instead of setting out to teach – set out to learn something… and get your pupils to help. After all, that’s what we’re asking them to do, isn’t it?