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Education? A personal reflection.

Although I have read the growing number of reflections on the purpose of education, this post has been brought about by a number of other factors:

  • A colleague using the quote below in a feedback assembly to young people as part of a staff-pupil co-constructed off-timetable day.
  • Listening to the Foo Fighters very loudly during my walk to the train station this morning.
  • A few professional and personal events that have made me reflect on the journey that had led me to this point.

This is a personal reflection, written here so there is a record for me to return to.  It’s also here to explain what I meant by this tweet sent this morning:Picture2 Added clarity has been provided by Everlong by the Foo Fighters:

‘The only thing I'll ever ask of you
You've got to promise not to stop when I say’

I should point out that:

  • I’m a teacher, mainly working in a secondary classroom with 11-16 year olds.
  • I have difficulty in distinguishing between informal and formal education.
  • I don’t see a huge difference between adults and children.  This may be because I haven’t grown up yet!
  • These reflection are based on my adventure so far – if you’d like to know the detail chat to me over a beer / coffee on day!
  • I’m quite an impulsive sort of bloke, so this was written in one hit during a 45 minute train journey so think ‘thinking our loud’

To strive means motivation.

What do we want to know and why do we want to know it?  ‘Because the Government / teacher / Head / parents’ say so is not a good enough answer.  I hated most of school but I love, and always have loved, education.  A good education was the ticket out of the Welsh valleys, out of an area of deprivation and into the opportunity to help shape, change and, most importantly, engage with the world around me.  Today, young people need to be aware of who they are competing against. 

Education is not just about pieces of paper, examination results, seating plans, books, technology or classrooms but also stretching personal experiences, engaging emotions, changing lives, getting people to live and work together, opening minds to the world around them. We should strive for this ‘fat’ type of education instead of being happy with just the ‘thin’ reams of paper and qualifications.

It is important that each and every person will have a completely different aiming point.  What does the latest iPad or climate change mean to an 8 year old that doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from? We must strive and encourage others to strive for their personal goals, to develop and justify their own opinions and those of others even if they conflict with our own

To strive means motivation.  Motivation needs inspiration. Sometimes this inspiration needs to be provided by people. My life long ambition is to be inspired by people and places.

If we don’t have the right aiming point, how can those in education be motivated?

To seek means personal choice.

Once we know the goal, who is to say what the best way is to get there? A predetermined path, especially one that consists of a core knowledge of facts is too rigid to be sustainable or useful in the future.

In addition, skills are useless if learnt out of any context.  What is the point of planning and event that doesn’t actually happen?

To seek hints at the way in which education should happen.  Personally, I don’t care where or how education happens, as long as it happens (within reason ;). How are spaces and places designed to encourage education? Does having a box where education ‘happens’ encourage a culture in which education is valued, respected and longed after? I don’t think so. We should value the education that happens outside of classrooms, schools that has absolutely nothing to do with us.

A very good friend always points out that ‘all I can do David is show you the door, you have to decide either to peep in, to close the door or to batter it down.’ Education is about showing as many doors as possible.

To seek is to never give up.  To seek is to follow your own path. To seek is to listen and be informed by others and then to chose to follow or lead. To seek is to enjoy the beautiful struggle. To seek is to learn as much from failure as success.

To find is not the end of the journey.

We get qualified, learn to tie in to a belay, not to touch the breaks around a go kart track or to comfort our sons and daughters.  These are the starting point for new adventures, a host of new doors to consider.

And if we don’t get there? Then we find a new route to where we want to be. And not to yield.


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