I’m off to the Guildhall in Bath to take part in a debate on the Future of Teaching as part of the Bath Children’s Literature Festival and I can’t wait.
Today my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of the latest initiative to drive up standards. There’s another pronouncement from Sir Michael Wilshaw, Head of OFSTED that children are losing valuable teaching time because the problems of low level disruptive behaviour in school is not being sorted out by Headteachers and teachers.We also hear that from 2016 a new GCSE in Cookery will be offered to help promote healthy eating amongst a generation who are reportedly going to cost the NHS billions in healthcare for obesity related illness.This comes hot on the heels of reports on the numbers of children leaving reception classes who are deemed unable to function in full time school, complaints from universities that students entering first year courses are ill-equipped for the rigour of degree study and changes to GCSE courses from 2017, which will mean that it will be much more difficult to gain a top grade.
Underlying all these initiatives and reported failings, do I detect a feeling that the future wellbeing of British society depends almost entirely on the teaching profession and that they are seen to be falling short? Certainly teachers have their part to play but I’m not sure that a profession who has little control over the quality of the raw material they have to work with (children) can be held responsible for all deficiencies. Don’t we all have a responsibility for educating the next generation?
My children had plenty to say on the subject at breakfast. I suppose it’s not surprising that they have views on something of which they have direct experience and in which they have a vested interest. What shone through from the discussion round our kitchen table, in between mouthfuls of toast, was a feeling that education is best carried out in partnership – where children, parents and teachers work together.
Lets take cooking as an example, seeing as it is in the news.
My middle child has cookery lessons in school for about an hour a week for part of the school year. Currently he is learning about foods which give energy, how they can be used as part of a balanced diet and how to make an array of biscuits and snack bars.
At home recently he has learnt to make omelettes, scrambled eggs, yorkshire pudding, pizza, pancakes, macaroni cheese and an array of salads. He can lay a table, load and unload a dishwasher and make a grocery shopping list.
As a result of watching The Great British Bake Off he can recognise what an over proved muffin looks like and what he could do to make a better one. (I ought to let him loose with a bag of flour at the weekend).
Teachers do not have time to take on the entire job of making him into a passable cook, who can fend for himself in a healthy way. That’s our job too. To borrow a phrase from Sir Michael Wilshaw….”it’s not rocket science.”
Whatever the ‘future of teaching’ is, I hope it allows an opportunity for parents and teachers to work together to educate the children in their care, where teachers feel valued and respected, where children feel engaged and parents feel involved.