Saturday, 3 December 2016

DebatED (Updated).

In her maiden speech to parliament, Joe Cox delivered an impassioned speech where she elegantly spoke of the power of unity. She was, of course, talking about the diversity within her own constituency but even in the aftermath of Brexit, I still believe this holds true nationally. As for teachers....

It's a funny old place Twitter. What often starts as a well-intentioned discussion about education can sometimes escalate into a polemical facade with either side unwilling to relent. And I'm as guilty as the next Keyboard Warrior for getting entangled in such arguments at times. Truth is, education/ teaching/ learning is far more complex and important than the sometimes oversimplified dichotomy being offered by traditionalists and progressivists. For me, excellent teaching draws on elements from both schools of thought. Equally, from my 10 years at the chalkface I've learnt that what works with one class may not necessarily work with another. Within the same school. On the same day. Good old  @kenradical wrote a very good piece about this recently which is definitely worth a read. 

All that said, I also like to think that those of us working in education are doing so because we actually care about children and genuinely want to improve their life chances. Surely no one enters the profession thinking 'you know what, I really want to make their lives shitter than they already are'. If I'm wrong then please shoot me now. If we genuinely want to help children then surely we need to have open and honest debate about the best ways to do so? Sadly, within the confinements of 140 characters, arguments can often be misconstrued. It's also easy to write almost anything when you're protected by a pseudonym/ anonimity. This is no criticism as I'm sure many do so because of their employers/ pupils rather than lacking courage in their convictions. 

So, what to do? What I'd like to see is the creation of regional DebatEd* events where educators come together to discuss, debate and try to determine the best ways to teach children. I'm not, of course, suggesting we all meet for a group hug, however, it'd be nice to  avoid creating some sort of UFC with caged teachers fighting like rabid dogs. Personally  I believe it would be best to adopt an informal format not too dissimilar to how TeachMeets used to be, devoid of corporate entry. Seriously, I do not need another pissing Twinkl travel mug. Probably in a pub but that's just because I do enjoy a hoppy brew. I'd be happy to be involved as long as there are enough interested people to take it forward. Otherwise it'll just be me, debating with myself and probably losing. 

Education can indeed be emancipatory and transformative. I know this from first-hand experience. However, for that to happen will require teachers from all sides working together for the common good. Reasoned and logic debate with a healthy dose of open mindedness is, for me, the best way to share and challenge ideas. 

*If these events are already happening could someone please point me in the right direction as I have done a bit of amateur research to no avail......


  1. Yes please. I'd be up for that. What area do you live in?

  2. Thanks for the comment. I live in North West England but would be willing to travel. Unless it's Australia as that'd be a tad too far.