A Positional Statement

We live in uncertain times: a coalition government seeking to reduce a deficit, restructure the NHS and “reform” education. At this point in time, I’m not confident to comment on the first of these, although I have my doubts about the process and, perhaps, the agenda. On the second, I have no experience to qualify me to comment. On the third… well that’s kind of my thing.

I work in a secondary school in England as a teacher of English. Generally, I love my job. I’m fortunate enough to spend my days working with a bunch of people who are mostly funny, kind and genuinely interesting. I’ve encountered many who are the opposite, and these are often the adults who are charged with teaching and caring for the kids. Sometimes I’ve had to work with youngsters who are rude, abusive, lazy and clueless. Frequently they are disengaged or uninterested. But then, they’re kids. Sometimes I’ve worked with children who are downright horrible, and these are the most heartbreaking. There’s been kids who I have strongly wished to be permanently excluded; these are those rare children who are, for one reason or another,  aggressive, dangerous, objectionable, arrogant in their stupidity, or just downright annoying. Some kids deliberately seek to disrupt and derail lesson after lesson, just for the hell of it. Perhaps this is a cry for attention. Perhaps it’s  sociopathic.

Sometimes I’ve delivered cracking lessons. Sometimes I’ve been a waste of space. Sometimes I know that I have really helped a child to move forward, to learn something or to improve their life chances. Sometimes I know that I have failed a child.

In a decade of doing this, I’ve been up the management ladder and down again. I’ve been strategied, Ofsteded, SMARTed, Brain Gymned and VAKed. I’ve written SEFs and FDPs. I’ve written learning objectives differentiated to three levels. I’ve been didactic. I’ve been a facilitator. I’ve mentored and targeted. And sometimes, just sometimes, I’ve been a teacher.

The blog begins as I move through my first year of a post-grad research degree. I’m thinking about teaching and learning again – properly this time, not because of some CPD course that cost the school £300 to tell me to use a starter and some mini-whiteboards.

Just in the first term and a half of the course, I’ve been exposed to some interesting questions and ideas about education, and my enthusiasm for my job has been genuinely re-ignited. Currently, I’m reading some stuff about dialogic. It’s interesting, for sure. At the moment I’m trying to get my way through this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dialogic-Education-Technology-Computer-Supported-ebook/dp/B001D4TJCM/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1328477890&sr=8-5

I’ll reserve commenting in full on this until I’ve got my head around it. But the general idea places learning as part of a dialogue between the learner, their peers, others around them and the society in which they operate.

The point is, it’s all fascinating. Beginning a research degree is like coming over the summit of a mountain range on the border of some newly discovered country: you look down into a new land of possibility, discussions, ideas … stuff. It’s exhilarating. And a bit frightening too.

If Gove wants to transform education, he could look at funding all teachers to do some research. Give us some time to discuss it in schools. Ofsted should be grounded in it.

This is a theme to which I will return.

What is this blog, then?  A thought journey as I grapple with some of these notions, and as I think about the things I read on my Twitter feed – and I have fallen hopelessly in love with Twitter.


3 thoughts on “A Positional Statement

  1. Hi – I’m Tom Whitehouse’s mum and, after being in the teaching profession since 1969 and the last 20 years as Head Teacher I will be most interested in following your blog. I retire on Friday after being Ofstedded in November and being put into Special Measures. This school, two and a half years ago was Good to Outstanding. We were part of Gove’s agenda and I want no more of it. I consider that I have had the best out of education and I dearly hope that ulitimately you may feel the same. I will follow your findings and musings with interest. Jenny Whitehouse

  2. Had to comment. Doing first year masters too, researching dialogic learning, co construction, societal approach too and loving it. My manner and how I deal with discussions has also altered dramatically. As a result I really believe that the children are happier, they see themselves as far more powerful. Keep up with the course!

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Dialogic is interesting, I just wish Wegerif’s writing style were a little easier to decode!

      Loving the course, but not for the mandatory research units! Love the theory/philosophy.

      Classroom experiences increasingly making me feel that the role of the teacher is very important. There is still a clear need for some didactic element. I’m calling my position Mediated Social Constructivism. I dunno if I’ve made that up or subconsciously stolen it from somewhere.

      Are you interested in social media in education?

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