Sunday, January 27, 2008

Free to teach?

I got the call from one of my University friends for a "girls night in" kitchen table supper with friends I hadn't seen for two years. I spent part of the evening chatting to a teacher, who has been teaching 7-10 year olds for the last 13 years. It was fantastic to hear in her voice her enthusiasm and obvious love for her work, but she also told me of the straight jacketing that she finds in her classroom. Kate told me that "it seems we have to turn out identical children, but I cant. What suits one child doesn't suit another. I want the freedom to be able to teach in a way which I know will allow me to bring the best out of all of them, and I know that I would achieve more with the children than the targets I currently have to hit" What was depressing for me was the way in which she said she was "lucky" because her head teacher gave her as much leeway as he could to allow her to go outside the box ticking imposed on other teachers she knew. It was clear that the one size fits all approach did not get her support. Kate was genuinely delighted when I started talking about our education policies and it was clear that having been totally switched off politics before we started talking, suddenly the interest and sparkle was there. What a lovely evening and it has set me up for the week ahead.