I’ve spent 30 years thinking about teaching and learning. About trying to be good at it. To be relevant.
It’s challenging, and at times depressing. There is the juxtaposition of the intense, personal, creative activity that permeates my days – and the weary making, soul destroying arrogance of the systems, people, organisations and politicians who relentlessly distract and undermine our activity.
The prompt for this post is the image above. It’s shorthand, and I saw it at my dad’s house a few weeks ago. It was written by his wife, Betty. Betty is in her 80’s and uses shorthand everyday to write lists, make notes and prepare and plan their activities. I guess Betty was taught shorthand, like thousands of young women, by a teacher. She can type too. Betty typed my dissertations when I was a student – long before desktop publishing and home computers reached our lives.
If you were to teach students one thing. One thing that would give them the best possible start in life, what would it be?
Over my 30 years in education I’ve been told we must, absolutely must, ensure every child leaves school able to..
Speak a foreign language.
I remember french was important.. and later german. But wait. Spanish. yes spanish because it was the language of industry and our students would be able to work in South America.
Wait. Chinese. Absolutely. Kinda obvious.
No, Latin. yes Latin – let’s throw in some Kings and Queens of England too.
Back to skills. Every child must be able to play a musical instrument.. la de da.
Science. Technology. Maths..
Every child must learn to code. This country needs coders. We need plumbers but I’ve seen no reason to teach every child how to fix a ball cock.
Frankly, my dear, I’m not convinced. Nope. Not at all.
As I age disgracefully. As I grow increasingly depressed at man’s inhumanity to man. At women’s inhumanity to women. As I witness every day the most disgraceful antisocial online, and analogue, behaviour and interactions, it becomes clear to me what we must teach.
We must teach our children to be kind. To be creative. To be confident. To understand that to blow someone else’s candle out does not make ours burn brighter..
And we must give them real tools and real skills that will make their lives better.