Thursday, 1 October 2015

What I've been thinking lately

During my many years (*cough*) of teaching, I have begun to move further and further away from the 'tried and true' content that has been handed down ad nauseam for the past several decades (I have seen text books at school older than I am!).

I have always been a bit of a rebel. Black sheep of the family, eldest child of the eldest child, first to forge the path, first to monumentally stuff things up, first to fail at school because it bored the hell out of me. First to homeschool my kids (well, my beautiful and talented wife did the vast amount of the work there) because I didn't trust the education system as far as I could throw it to challenge my kids, to see them as individuals and to inspire them to pursue their passions and dreams (one is an actor, one is an artist, one is still deciding). But enough about me and mine.

I have seen a few students pass through our kura now and I am terrified that so few of them were truly served by the system. Yes, they (well, 80-odd % of them) got a piece of paper to say they had met the standards imposed on them by the system. But how many of them left the gates for the final time feeling empowered, inspired and enthusiastic about what lay ahead on their learning journey? How many of them shook the dust of the school from their sandals and vowed never to set foot there again, as long as they could possibly help it? The thought of how I/we may have failed them in that regard fills me with horror. How much damage have I/we wrought on these young minds to the point that they will break out in a cold sweat at the thought of another test, another exam, or more learning?

It keeps me up at night...


  1. Hi Mike,
    the beauty of the blog huh:)
    I love the way when I have some thoughts, I can come and write - just like you have done here. I also am in fear for my Miss 12 moving into High School next year (Mr 22 just cruised through without me even realising he had spent 4 and a bit years there, while Miss 17 went to 4 High Schools in all - it was certainly not engaging, motivating, or inspiring for her). Luckily Miss 12 has had opportunities at Intermediate to learn some self-management skills and will monitor her own progress I think.
    As for my learners in my class, I know I am doing EVERYTHING I can to instill in them life-long learning dispositions...and that is what we have to keep thinking. I can not tell you how many times I have been advised that "change takes time" - now I reply with "how long is too long to wait for some change in our colleagues?"

  2. Great, challenging questions, Mike!
    They're making me think - that's for sure!

  3. Hmmm! What does a piece of paper tell a future employer?????? Ability to get on with others? Can work in a team? Ability to come up with ideas/proble -solve? Ability to get out of bed and show up in the morning? Work ethic? Can do attitude? Initiative? Resilience?........Oh that's right none of these!!!!! oooh! the cynic in me has raised it's head!!!!

  4. I hear you, Mike, and agree with Katriona above.
    School has left a sour and rather indelible mark on one of our children, for a whole raft of reasons, in spite of acquiring a piece of paper with an excellent value and continuing the learning journey at University.
    I work hard to improve the way I worked with the kids I have taught and am sure will co-learn with in the future. I do not want them remembering me as anything but able to celebrate them as an individual and inspire within them an inquiring mind as they move through their lives.

  5. Thank you all for your encouragement and connection. It's really powerful for me to know that I'm not alone in these thoughts or feelings. Strength in numbers can sometimes be just standing together in mutual support. Kia kaha. Nga mihi nui koutou.