The Purposed Project has got me writing on my blog again rather than just thinking of things I should get round to writing. I’ve taken part in 3 stages of the project starting with my earlier blog post “Time To Learn”, then a bit more passively with this lovely picture quote mashup created and contributed by @grumbledook (thanks and I was flattered).

Purpos/ed 3x5 - 16th April 2011

I’m now contributing again with a purposed futured interview. I couldn’t help signing up for another one of these “tasks” as they’re interesting, fun, different and make me and I hope others think about some bigger questions for a short while. This task allowed me to perform my first over the phone interview using Audioboo, as instructed, to record and share the audio. I wasn’t sure who to interview when I signed up but in the end went for someone from a faith community, because I thought it may give a different perspective, and someone from the Jewish community, because I feel it’s an integral part of the privileged education path that I have followed and am still following. Judaism has always been a religion that prides scholarship and learning for the sake of learning, in some communities maybe too much over and above the skills required to earn a living! The immigrant history has also meant Jewish communities have always made education of their children a priority in order to have skills and work that could be transferred from country to country. Having known my interviewee, Rabbi Pete Tobias, for some time, I did not expect a religious sermon or historical lecture. I was surprised though to hear opinions and visions that are incredibly similar to many of the participants and I guess the instigators of the purpose/d project. I hope you enjoy it.
Purposedfutured Interview with Rabbi Pete Tobias (mp3)

Purpos/ed – time to learn

Posted on February 24th, 2011 in thoughts | 17 Comments »

Purposed Badge - text "I added my voice"

This is my 500 words for Purpose/d. Another wonderful project from a group of educators looking to inspire, create debate and eventually change. I’m supposed to read the posts before mine and respond to some of the points. I’ve read some but not all, and I’ll use that as my segway to my 500 words, because I just didn’t have time to read them all. And time is surely the killer for much change and innovation in education. There’s precious time to think, to innovate and be creative, and that goes for teachers and students.

In the UK, when we learn to be teachers, we don’t learn about pedagogical theories beyond a brief look at learning styles. In a 36 week practical based course there just isn’t time. When I did my MA the largest revelation was that all the things I did anyway in the classroom had a theory attached to them. But good teachers don’t always need a theory, they just do it because it works for them or their students, it just seems right to them. And a good teacher knows what makes it right in one situation doesn’t make it right for every teacher or every class.

There’s never enough time in the curriculum for every subject. Recently I’ve seen online campaigns to save PE, RE, ICT and Computing from being removed or marginalised in the UK. Campaigns led by specialist teachers and national subject associations may seem self serving, but they do it because they care. After all remove sports and kids may become unhealthy, remove RE and kids may become intolerant, remove ICT and kids may become unskilled. I can’t disagree with the passion of these teachers who know the ‘Purpose’ and the benefits of what they teach.

I’ve been out of the classroom now for 6 months. People ask me if I miss it and how life is different. There are many differences but the biggest one is not having the guilt on your shoulders because there isn’t enough time to do everything for your students. Teachers learn to live with many kinds of guilt; the guilt of not preparing enough, the guilt of not marking enough, the guilt of ignoring a school policy, the guilt of straying from the scheme of work, the guilt of setting too much homework. What is the ‘Purpose’ of all these things we worry about?

Our education system will improve greatly when teachers can remove the guilt from their shoulders and take pride in their skills and achievements.

I subscribe to the terribly liberal but certainly not revolutionary philosophy that different students and different teachers have different needs. We need different routes, different pathways and different systems open to everyone to enable each learner and each teacher to find their own way. There’s never enough time to teach everything and one, just one, purpose of education must be to give students the skills and the passion to learn and thrive in their own interests in their own time.

What is the overall ‘purpose’ and how do we get there? I don’t know but if we are to find it we need to give teachers the room to innovate, experiment and improve and we need to give students room to innovate, experiment and improve. And on that note I’ll leave you with a video of a discussion I led on this topic at the recent Collabor8 4Change event.