3 Propositions about Teaching

November 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm 3 comments

by Alec Patton

Since Monday, I’ve been in an education conference, a National education event, and a ‘Learning Lunch’  about US education policy, and I’ve been thinking about teachers. When I hear about teachers, it’s usually in the context of exciting things they’re doing (such is the nature of my job). But I also hear about teachers as barriers to innovation.

Now, in some cases, this is in reference to specific people at specific schools – but occasionally people make sweeping statements that take in all or most of the profession, and I have grave concerns about this. So I’ve come up with three propositions about teaching (specifically in the UK and the US) that I think are A) True, and B) Useful as core principles for thinking about education reform

Here they are:

1. Most teachers teach their students well, within the logistical and legislative constraints that are placed on them

2. Most teachers work more hours per week than they should

3. Most teachers are dissatisfied with the conditions under which young people are educated todayBefore you ask, no I don’t have an evidence-base for these three propositions, and no I’m not going to define ‘teaching well’ – not in this post, anyway. If you like, rephrase the first proposition as ‘want to teach students well’.

The point is that teachers are, first and foremost, potential allies for anyone who wants to revolutionise education, if they want them to take you seriously and get on board with your vision, you need to make a few things clear (this is a partial list, so please add to it in your comments):

1) You’re in it for the long haul
2) You take their expertise as practitioners seriously
3) You don’t think they should be working harder than they are currently
4) You don’t think that teachers are failing children, but you DO think the current educational system is failing both teachers and students

How does this strike you?

Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tom  |  November 11, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    This strikes me as elaboration on a basic assumption which you have left unstated, namely: Most teachers have their students’ best interests at heart and are doing the best they can for them

    • 2. Alec Patton  |  November 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm

      Well put, Tom.

  • 3. Jude  |  November 11, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Very good Alec,
    True sentiments based on generally true facts. I would back you up except that I would not go as far as you when you say “you DO think the current educational system is failing both teachers and students”
    This is true about some aspects but failing is a very strong word and it is not correct as proved by all the children who do well in their education, and the teachers who are happy in their roles. How about “there are many things about the education system that could be imporoved” “Class sizes for one”.


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