Mr. H. has left the building...

That was great! The kids were shouting out words and remembered absolutely everything! They love you!

That was the feedback from my observation today, teaching English in Cairo to 6 year olds. The observer was a young teacher trainee, who had qualified recently as a TEFL teacher.

The lesson was quite complex, involved a heap of group dynamics, an awesome memory and vocab game and a lot of running and shouting. In the process the pupils had memorised nearly 30 words, done some pretty complex sentence structures (for that age and in a second language), practised listening and reading and had spoken to each other. They didn't write much but then they didn't have to.

Rewind the clock 6 months. I'm in Spain, being observed by a "veteran" physics teacher. The kids hate her as they think that she's dull and too strict and they say she doesn't explain things very well.

That was awful! The kids were shouting out and wrote down absolutely nothing! They love you, that's clear to see, but your popularity won't get them the grades you know.


Let's compare that with what the kids have to say...

It is also sad as an student to see how [other great teacher] and you leave, leaving us alone with Mrs.R (yup that's her). I enjoyed your classes, you made Physiscs fun. The thing is that they don't like your methods but your methods are effective: even those who didn't sympathise with you listened carefully in class.

I've always hated chemistry, in my oppinion it was the borest class of all, and at the beginning of the year I didn't thought I was going to have great results, but time changed my oppinion about chemistry. "it's as simply as that"- you always said... and indeed it are a great teacher, I've learned a lot with all; your pictures of chairs being joined as atoms, all the moodle events, voting... IT HAS BEEN FUN...

You changed my oppinion of Chemistry...I enjoy it, it now looks easier, fun and enjoyable...thanks for all

I hope you have a great future in your next jobs, here they didn't appreciate all what you did for us, a new system of teaching, a great system! whats the point in staying? We will miss your experiments(the egg one was fantastic), little andy, and you!

So who's right?

This is my last contract as a teacher for the forseeable future, but it's only now I figured it out. I can leave safe in the knowledge that I'm the teacher that new teachers aspire to be, the one that makes their subject fun and challenges crap teaching across the school.

In the same breath, I'm also the teacher that those crap teachers wish they were, because they are too damn stubborn to change the way they do things, and they aren't intelligent enough to make the link between a pupil liking a teacher and liking the subject they teach.

Teaching is still full of crap teachers, but there are some heroes in there too. Just take William Atkinson as an example, the head who turned around the failing Phoenix High School. This guy is a true superhead and a true superhero, the cream of the crop.

Unfortunately, more often than not it's not the cream but the shit that floats to top and I've worked in so many schools with crap management and been frowned upon because my practises are group conversational, technological and discussive, more than reading, writing and arithmetic.

But when we teach, we teach not the people of the past but the bearers of our future. We need to equip pupils for a future that will include computing and the internet in many forms. Computers are machines that are designed to simplify arithmetical procedures and they remove the need for writing.

However they also present us with the issue of data overload, which we need to ensure our pupils are competent to discuss and filter with confidence.

By discouraging experimental methodology like mine (yes I've been told to read more passages from the books and make the pupils answer every question so that they know what's coming in the exam) in order to chase league table positions, schools have ultimately lost the interest of the pupils and sent themselves on a vicious cycle that ultimately may lead to their own obsolesence.

The children of today go home and use super-powered computers to play amazing games, then talk to their friends on social networks.

Then they go into school and are told to open books and shut the fuck up.

How long can we really go on with these outdated methods in school and continue to alienate our young? Why the hell do you think that there are packs of disinterested youth on our streets who have not a good thing to say about school?

The gulf between the school and the home widens every day and teachers, the guardians of our youth for a good proportion of their development are now part of an ever widening dichotomy between the home and the school and are being seen as part of an oppressive, no-fun system that all children have to grin and bear as a rite of passage. It's not about learning. You are someone who does something foreign with them. No wonder so many teachers have become disillusioned by an old guard of people who should have left the school system long ago.

And so it is that I leave the chalk face and head towards the office, to get amongst the electronic learning pastures. I've gone for a university where I hope that I can continue to make a difference, it's small, it's open minded.

Goodbye then teaching. It's been a bumpy ride...
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