Thursday, September 21, 2006

TeachMeet06 recollected in tranquillity

Looking back at yesterday’s visit to TeachMeet06, what are my impressions? Last night I was full of it – and out of my skull with exhaustion by the time I came to blog about it, so that my posts were full of broken links and I wasted ages deleting multiple posts. Actually I think some of that was Blogger rather than me, but I can’t be sure…

Anyway, a nos moutons. My over-riding impression was of people who were very much alive – and hugely enthusiastic about what they were doing. There was none of the world-weary disdain for the work of teaching that is such a depressing feature of some staffrooms and many in-service courses. And no-one was taking the piss out of the enthusiastic. It was great. And more – I found I’d forgotten that I’d actually retired, and that I’d gone back to thinking about education again, seeing how the new stuff on display could be used in my own area.

Maybe teaching has been static for too long. I know there have been so many new initiatives that we were all sick of them – but were they actually new? It’s not really new thinking to tweak an exam or two, or decide that work should be done in text-based units, as we did when Standard Grade came in. Remember these interminable units that would sicken anyone of the most riveting book by spreading it over months of trivial tasks? How many boxes of paper and comb-bound booklets ended up collecting dust on the topmost shelves of departmental store cupboards? This stuff is new thinking, encouraging a fluid and open approach which involves everyone, pupils and teachers, in working collaboratively – and not in waiting for Course Outlines decided by someone higher up the tree with a career to carve.

Yesterday I felt a bit of an anomaly in that company – I really only use the tiny fringes of the technology on offer, and am not really geek material. I learn as I go along, but slowly compared with these guys. But I am a teacher – and as I made clear in what I said, a good tool is a good tool and should be seized and used.

But now I really must try to sort out my tags……


  1. I am sorry I missed it! Hogwarts school of Music and Drama called and a performance looms...

  2. I'm not sure I'd have liked you, or similar, as a Teacher you know.

    I was more than content to gently sail, mainly unchallenged, through my school years. I've picked up a lot of my 'learning' since then although I must admit that I do recognise some of the 'lessons' in the way I think and interpret English.

    I'm not decrying the changes in Teaching 'styles', merely being concerned that a 'one size fits all' mentality is not adopted with new technology as it was with teaching in my learning days.

    Variety is the spice of life.

  3. I too tended to sit at the back of my English class (of 40 girls) and do as littlle as possible. In fact, I read a book under the desk and ate Mintolas. If I hadn't done that I'd have died of boredom. I vowed I'd never teach the way I was taught at school.

  4. Chris,

    Thank you so much for your input to Teachmeet06 last week. It was really good to hear from and English teacher who was enthusiastic and creative. If I have my professional hat on then I can applaud the thoughtfulness and wisdom in what you were talking about. As a parent who is now dealing with the trauma of his second child trying to get through Higher English, I must say that I wish they had a teacher like you! That is not meant to sound just like shallow flattery (although we do all need that encouragement)it is more a comment on the experiences my own kids have had in English. Now that you are free of the classroom do you do much private tuition on line? If so, how much do you charge? You don't think I'm joking do you?

    Keep up the good work.

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  6. Gordon: flattery of any depth is always welcome! Seriously, I've only been combining online tuition with actual weekly sessions so far, but am quite interested in looking at a wider application of the blog as a tool in purely online tuition. I don't know how I'd charge for that.