Peasant 1: Who’s that?
Peasant 2: Dunno. Must be a king.
Peasant 1: How do you know?
Peasant 2: He hasn’t got shit all over him
When I was in my early days on Twitter, a friend gave me the sound advice to follow all those linked into my profession whether I liked them or not. If you only follow people you like, came the logic, you’ll get an unrealistic view of what the world is like. You’ll essentially live in a bubble consuming your own smoke, I really understood what she meant and it made total sense. So, as my Twitability got going, I kept this in mind. As confidence grew with #hashtags, one I particualrly valued – and still do – was #Gove as it was a space for educators, parents and anyone interested to vent their frustration at the rapid evolution of (some say) a narrow educational policy. I have contributed hundred of Tweets to this particular hashtag, most recently around the decimation of the Arts curriculum in secondary (and at the time Speaking and Listening was dropped from the draft primary curriculum) as some schools tremble in fear at the Ebacc, but I have come to realise that I am one of a million voices who are essentially shouting into the wind. I may be totally wrong, but I don’t think the DfE pay much attention to #Gove – they may observe its trends, but take it seriously?
I was at a teaching conference recently and there was a bookstand selling books around the teaching and education theme. What struck me was that the authors of these books were all teachers – some may have moved onto consultancy and the like – but they had all worked with children in school settings, their experiences now being used to support others. I know it may be a cheap apolitical point, but I’m not sure many working in the Education Secretary’s office or various Think Tanks, have stood in a class of thirty wondering how to approach Seamus Heaney’s beautiful agricultural poetry knowing one particular child lost his father at the weekend. Or, that feeling of uselessness when a child predicted a grade F manages a D and you ask yourself ‘have I actually helped’? If you’re a teacher reading this, you’ll have your own repertoire of anecdotes to offer. My point is, and I don’t wish to be labelled as over-emotive, is that our core business is sometimes overlooked by those in Westminster who seek to tell us what to do.
On Tuesday, The Guardian reported a meeting of Headteachers who had had enough and wished to suggest, from the point of view of expert teachers working in schools, the direction Government policy could and should take. Any Government. A six point manifesto of experience that will draw in the voices of teachers, educators from across the spectrum of settings and, of course, parents and children. Read it here if you missed it:
There is now a place where YOU can comment on and contribute to the mission of @headsroundtable:
Read it and ask yourself which point resonates with you. Me? Curriculum and assessment to be taken out of political control – I like that. It’s what I try and do when working in classrooms with teachers and children when I use the utterly democratic dramatic process Mantle of the Expert. If any of it resonates with you then share it, write about it, talk about it and join this lovely example of Twactivism.
Also, take a look at @thatiangilbert ‘s alternative Labour education conference speech here:
This Roundtable will hopefully have a little more luck then their namesake and I think they need our support in staying true to the values, moral intentions and ethics that got us into the job in the first place. I’m really encouraged by their credibility and courage. Rather than sit back and wait to see what happens, I thought I’d do my bit to let people know.Follow them at @headsroundtable and join the discussion they’ve invited to you.
Bottom line is, no teacher wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, ‘You know what? Today I’m going to lower standards’.