I have been reflecting on education, as the school year begins, although I am no longer teaching full time I am still involved in the learning and education field and will start a part time shared role position with schools across a district this year as a coordinator for flexible learning strategies utilising various technologies.
I am hoping not working full time will finally allow me time to reflect on what is important to me about education and teaching. Ironic that I have had to stop full time teaching to get the time and appetite to reflect on teaching ....leaning....hmmmm. Nature of what teachers do - it is a fast forward career, without much built in opportunities for reflection and pondering the big questions that teaching entails.
I remember one issue that I have debated with colleagues is about how we attract good teachers to poor schools, isolated schools, difficult to staff regions, with at times violent situations amongst the community population - and on occasion populations who are not always pleased to see new teachers in their community..... My personal experiences of beginning teaching was of being sent 24 hours drive north from my hometown to teach secondary students aged between 13 and 17, at age 21. It was a remote northern coastal town and I was considered very lucky - it was a large population mining town - so relatively wealthy and well catered for in regards to social services and general amenities. However it did set me up for some life shattering, sink or swim experiences, that I was probably too young and naive to fully appreciate their complexities and nature at the time. The community was at times nomadic and sadly prone to violence within the school and the wider town community - I witnessed my first knifing incident - (not too serious thank heavens) by a student of a staff member whilst at the school and I was once attacked and abused outside the school context whilst at the local community shops, eventually fending off my assailant with the offer of some cigarettes, we ended up both in the dust having a smoke together!
There is more.... but I won't go into those for now.
so is it still appropriate - 25 years on - to continue this practice of sending new and green graduates to remote areas? Or is there another way?
A variety of solutions are always presented - give them a generous financial allowance, free fights home and back each school year, build better accommodation, resource the schools more, give them a fee access to cars, offer really good promotions/ positions when they return to less difficult schools, and locations.
All of these solutions carry some merit, but at their core they are temporary and based on principals other than what is best for the learning outcomes for the various needs of the communities, the long term solution for good educational outcomes in isolated or remote locations and the support for often only newly qualified teachers still need sto be addressed. There needs to be a solution that meets these issues head on, community ownership of the learning and education, long term consistently and quality of service delivery in isolated regions and appropriate duty of care, mentoring and positive experiences for our newly appointed teachers entering the system.
Anyway I wanted to share this interesting video. I found it a really interesting proposition/solution for some of the really big issues that many school systems face, such as the sort outlined above.
Not everyone who commented on this video saw it as useful - but I thought it was a a pretty positive start. (Plus I get to practice putting a link into my blog - so let me know if it doesn't work).
Thanks to the TED site - it continues to inspire, delight, sometimes enrage and push me to be more thoughtful in what I do and be.....
Now I must get on with some billable hours of writing for education - enough of this meandering and reflection - I need to get on with writing about what is new and happening in teaching and learning today!
Hmmm ...where did I put that book on de-schooling society by Ivan Illich....1970......