Teaching- more than just dispensing facts

Today, Michael Gove has ‘raised the bar’ for prospective teachers by unveiling an overhaul of tests in a move he claimed would improve the status of the profession. Gove said the new “rigorous selection” for trainees would help raise standards in the classroom.

The move came as the education minister David Laws accused teachers of having “depressingly low expectations” for their pupils.

Under the newest proposals, to be introduced from next September, anyone who wants to train as a teacher will have to complete revamped tests in English and maths. A paper on verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning is also due to be introduced in the next few years. Calculators will not be allowed and the pass marks for both the English and maths tests will be raised again, the Department for Education

Also among the measures is a plan for candidates eventually needing to score the equivalent of a grade B at GCSE to pass.

Whilst I understand the need for knowledgable teachers, to me these measures miss something important, the need for a teacher to inspire. In the independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/why-a-mans-place-is-in-the-classroom-8225270.html , an interview with the newly anointed Teacher of the year, Nathan Kemp, talked about the impact a male teacher can have in early years and primary education, dating that “it’s not just about giving children from single- parent families male role models. It’s about having that balance – growing up and socialising with both sexes.”

As someone who has had extensive experience in a primary school in anticipation for (hopefully) starting a PGCE course, I completely agree and it reaffirms that a teacher’s function isn’t just to teach facts, but to inspire and aid a child’s development socially. A twitter teacher friend of mine @mattbritland posed a question ‘If I got a C for Maths, does that mean I will not be a good teacher? Is this all that teaching comes down to?’. I think it’s a sad state of affairs when a blinkered view of teaching facts is all teaching amounts to.


A teacher doesn’t just impart facts,
Pythagoras theorem, advanced Maths,
like some glorified encyclopaedia, dry,
the when, how but not why

a teacher is meant to be a role model for those who have none,
from 9 to 3 you should be a superhero,
a wonder woman,
a superman.

A teacher is meant to inspire,
kindle a fire, a desire to learn,
to grow, to aspire, to dream,
that’s what being a teacher truly means.


My defence of my history education- Pre GOVE!

 Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, Michael Gove lamented the absence in the curriculum of figures such as Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale and Horatio Nelson, and he wants more “facts” in England’s national curriculum, as he launches a review of what children are taught- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12227491 .

He called the current curriculum was “sub-standard” – Mr Gove, I beg to differ. At high school in history we studied many things ranging from the Middle Ages, the Tudors, Slavery, Industrial Revolution and the cold war. We did a depth study on Germany bewteen the wars and saw first hand how people can be manipulated by media, by fear into believing a horrid racial ideology that culminated in the Holocaust. We learned about how in Britain at the early 20th century, the suffragettes gained the vote, and how in the 16th century how the reformation created religious turmoil for many people.

A theme running through all of these is the lives of ORDINARY people, of how they influenced change and how they were caught up in it. To me this is a more valuable history than solely learning about so called IMPORTANT figures such as Churchill and Nightingale. To me, learning about the treaties after WW1 is vital due to its consequences which still plague us today (the middle east, the Balkans etc).

I urge you Mr Gove, do NOT sacrifice such a rich story in favour of teaching solely about so called important figures. These issues such as ideology, nationalism and equality still have relevance in todays world and by learning about the above aspects of history has allowed me and will allow others a greater understanding of the owrld around them and how it was shaped. I went on a history trip to Auschwitz and I witnessed a place that bore witness to how evil humanity and hatred can be. THOSE WHO DON’T LEARN FROM THEIR HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT!

You wish to change,

Change the way we learn,

Change the things we learn,

To you dates and figures reign supreme,

Nelson, churchill on their pedastals reign supreme.

What about how we fought for fairness, for equality,

How our neighbours were enslaved by ideology, theology,

Intertwinned we are, their story is our story, is also YOUR story,

He who forgets is doomed to repeat his own history!

Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it!