After nearly 20 years in teaching I, like many other teachers atm it seems, am seriously questioning whether I want to stay in the profession. I am pretty much hating it right now. But my dissatisfaction with the horrible data-obsessed, hoop-jumping mess seems to have brought on a kind of educational existential crisis in me (self-indulgent, I know).
So my question is, if you could invent a school system totally from scratch, as though schools had never been invented before, what would it be like? What subjects would be taught? How would you group kids pastorally? What life skills would you teach and how?
Whatever school you have, it has to teach children what they need to know to cope, thrive and do their best in our current society, which pretty much means they need the required skills, expertise and character traits to be successful and innovative in today's workplace.
They need to be numerate and literate. They need to know how to persevere, do their best, be curious and open minded, think outside the box, question everything and believe in themselves.
They need to have a love of learning, they could do with understanding basic programming, they should be emotionally literate and financially literate.
They should be tolerant, accepting and not discriminate against different groups of people. They should be kind and helpful and supportive of everyone.
If a school can do that, with the support of the parents and the community, then they are doing the right thing.
Yes I would agree with most of that. But I would say that quite a large proportion of the kids I teach have no love of learning or intellectual curiosity and are not very literate. This is what makes me wonder if we are going about it all in the wrong way. I think that the way schools are atm has switched both teachers and students off. If teachers' enthusiasm for their subjects is suffering, then what hope do we have of inspiring our pupils?
I think lessons in the morning and more choice in the afternoon. Afternoon could be sport, work experience, vocational or private study. Is fact memorising so important in an internet world? Teachers could spend most afternoons prepping lessons and collaborating.
I would like to be able to do some things 'just because' or 'because it's fun' without worrying about a learning intention or whether they are all making progress. I would like to have an element of spontenaiety - it's sunny so we'll go on a nature walk / wander to the river without a risk assessment 10 days in advance etc.
oh yes! I definitely think the curriculum we have is a throwback to the past. A morning of intellectual pursuit, followed by an afternoon of craft, technology or sport would be my choice. And teachers should be teachers, as they are in other countries, not social workers or policemen - those are separate professions, required in schools, but not by jack-of-all-trades teachers.