My brother just made two comments on my last post, relating to the very exciting topic of accreditation and procedures for the Institute of Teachers.
Whilst part of me was ready to Trash the comment – as I admited on Twitter – after some thought whilst eating my recess, I can’t help but think his initial response (that he had NO idea what we were talking about) is possibly a very deep and very urgent issue we need to face.
How much of the non-teaching world actually understand what we do and what we try to do? If my own brother, who has copped a fair slab of my educational rants from time to time, doesn’t have much of an idea of what teachers do beyond his own experience at school, I think that’s a problem.
Families and spouses of teachers, close friends who are rejected because of marking or drama performances or exhibitions at their friends’ schools, even (we hope) most parents of children currently attending school will get a brief glimpse into the every day work of teachers on a fairly regular basis. At a recent meeting, a colleague reminded us that you can always tell the teachers at a BBQ, because they cluster together and talk shop the whole afternoon.
But, often, we come across a situation where we stand, dumbfounded, infront of a reasonable person who should know better and have to explain why we do need school holidays (my excuse is my sanity) or why we do care if students are happy in the classroom (“Shouldn’t they just do the work anyway?”) or a myriad of other issues, from the superficial to the sublime.
How much do we engage in the metaeducation of society? We complain that the Institute of Teachers or the Board of Studies (insert your own district’s authority here) don’t get where education is at or that they are monolithic in their thinking or not agile enough for the 21st century. However, these institutions are reflections of the society in which they reside. The political, economic and social context from which they are born dictate their size, structure and actions.
So, do we need to start educating society about education? Do we need to make more explicit and meaningful connections between what is inside the school gates and what is outside? I believe we do. It’s part of our growing responsibility as an education sector to educate the wider society about us: we don’t fear what we understand. (that’s not Piaget or Hattie, that’s a reworking of a quote from Batman Begins).
So I want to publically thank my brother Nathan, for through his comment it has forced me to think outside the Education box. A box we all too often find ourselves raging and rampaginig within, when some of those who matter are on the outside… listening to our muffled arguments behind a wall of jargon, contexts and procedures they, quite understandably, have no idea about.