As I have been reading, I chanced on “Thinking Allowed on Schooling” by Mick Waters.
It is brilliant.
Mick explains the English schooling system in detail, as well as giving an historical perspective. It is this perspective that resonates with educators from other states. You get an insight into the driving forces of politicians…and it rings true to me. I got involved with a political party when as a Principal I had become despairing of the nonsense spoken by politicians. But politics is very strange…I became Minister for Environment, rather than playing a lead role in education!…another story.
But not only does Mick put all the changes in English schooling into perspective, but he gives hope.One of the things that has worried me while writing this blog ( very much in the beginning stages) is how dismal a picture I paint of English schooling, when I am aware of how much brilliant teaching and learning does occur , in spite of the system.
Mick refers often to wonderful happenings in schools up and down England.
And not only that, at the end of each chapter, he concludes with a dot point list of ‘What We Should Do?’ pertinent to what was discussed in that chapter.
Who is Mick Waters? I had heard of him from my colleagues in Birmingham City Council School Effectiveness Division. Mick has been in every part of the education system: student, teacher, head teacher, teacher trainer,local government education authorities ( Birmingham and Manchester) and before it was dismantled, the QCA ( Qualifications and Curriculum.)
I have never met him personally, but I am ever grateful to the Dunedin Public Library for purchasing a copy of his book for their collection. I have since bought my own online copy.
For teachers in England, he does give some ways forward at all levels…things to enact in the classroom, school organisation, and broader actions to take back the ownership of schools from the ideologues.
For New Zealanders and other readers of this blog around the world, you will find such connection with the concerns we all share and it will give you time to reflect about next steps.
This is not an advertisement as such, because Mick Waters is donating any profits to Shelterbox ( disaster relief).
from page 19:
” We need an ‘education spring’ – a rising of intolerance about the way schooling is being manipulated in a piecemeal and uncoordinated way to serve too many purposes with unclear measures. We need to build a rational, apolitical debate and ensure that schooling moves away from undue, short-term political influence.”
from page 170 on what good teachers do…
“Create limelight for every child. There are children in the school system who seem never to get noticed….they never get asked to sort out the cupboard, feed the fish or water the plants. They never collect money for Poppy Day and they never meet the mayor. Some get so fed up with this that they do bad things just to be seen. Surely every child should at some point be acknowledged, applauded, celebrated, praised or recognised by their fellows. Every child should experience the limelight on themselves.”
“Teachers are amazing people. The vast majority are extremely committed to the pupils they teach and believe they are part of the development of society. They enjoy being with young people and seeing them grow. They grapple with the challenge of making the world make sense to youngsters, whatever their background. However, many of them are worn out and many more are caught in a game they don’t fully understand.”
Just from these few quotes I hope you want to explore this book more. I did find it on line as well…..for those into e-reading…I now have to learn how to make notes as I read on line instead of annotating in pencil on the margins of a Paper book. We never stop learning and adapting…that is the joy of living!