I love this image and it always makes me reflect on what I am doing as a teacher. Am I empowering all my students? Am I giving everyone the opportunity to reach their personal best? Most importantly, do I remember to see each of my students as individuals?
Teachers are restricted by the curriculum and by pressure to achieve results. We have limited resources available to us and are burdened by paperwork and initiatives that often only seem to take us further away from giving our students what they actually need – the opportunity to learn and the validation that how they learn is not better or worse than how anybody else learns.
Every student has their own mind, they are on their own journey and they have their own skills and interests, passions and frustrations and yet the education system tries to mould them into a homogenous monochromatic whole. After a special winter themed day at her school my youngest daughter came home with a piece of art work that was lovely, but which her teacher had shaped her to create, telling her where to put the various pieces of card to form a piece of work that was exactly the same as everyone else’s.
Reflecting on my own practice, I know that I am, of course, part of this system. In preparation for exam season, I have encouraged students to see topics from the perspective of the examiner and what they are looking for rather than from their own perspective because I am judged by my results and the worthiness of my subject’s place in the curriculum is determined by the results. I have tried to subdue more extroverted vocal students because when inspectors come calling they look for a purposeful working atmosphere and this is easier to demonstrate if everyone is writing or busy.
The pressure is so great that it is easy to forget that most of us in this profession became teachers because we are passionate about young people, we are passionate about our subject and we want to make a difference to them and to the wider world. So my personal goal in teaching is to do more every day to make a change where I can- to strive to validate each of my students for being the amazing, unique individual that they are and help them to grow into a place where they see themselves this way too!