It has been a really long time between blog posts. It hasn’t been for want of trying. I have had so many ideas for blog posts, particularly when I’ve been driving home from work. Perhaps when cars can drive independently of drivers, I’ll be able to update my blog on my way home from work!
Needless to say, I’ve digressed and I promised myself that I would avoid digressions. I have been thinking about teaching and schools and the purpose of schools. I was at a forum recently, that was looking at innovation and education.
A question was posed to the audience and I must admit, I have not stopped thinking about it… ‘What is the question to which schools are the answer?’
I’ve thought long and hard about my role as a teacher, and in curriculum and I find the question to be unsettling, probably because in my mind the answer should be as definitive as my philosophy of teaching and learning. I feel as though the answer should be clear, yet as it turns out, it’s not. It has led me to think about the changing nature of schools – the many different demands placed upon schools to fill the gaps in society. I wonder whether my difficulty in answering the question is in the fact that schools once had a clearly defined and delineated role in society, but now, all lines are blurred. People learn in different ways – we value learning both inside and outside the classroom, personal experiences are valued as they can enrich learning, whereas in decades past, they would have been left at the gate.
As an educator I feel torn. I feel as though schools provide stability to communities. They value add, by investing in the young people in the community. They provide opportunities for students to extend themselves, to acquire knowledge, to develop social skills, to learn the written and unwritten codes of our society… yet when I think about this question, I think that students can probably acquire these skills in other forums.
I believe that schools provide great foundations for innovation, creativity and critical thinking. Schools provide the microcosm that is the wider community. Students are thrown into the melting pot and they learn a lot about themselves and others. Values, both explicit and implicit are equally as important. If anything, schools are the places where people care so much about the learning and welfare of others. It prompted me to think about all those students who would have easily slipped through the cracks in society, if not for schools. It prompted me to think about the students who needed someone to believe in them, even when they had long given up believing in themselves and I’m sure we’ve all taught that student.
Perhaps, after this reflection, I am beginning to see that finding the one question may not really matter in one sense, largely because schools tend to be the answer for many questions. Perhaps the question is about identity, about the way that we as educators view ourselves and our work environment. Either way it has given me a month’s worth of reflections in my car on my way home from work.
Would be interested in your thoughts.