I ought to be resisting invitations from @ChocoTzar and @Sue_Cowley to respond to the call of nurture. Quite apart from spending any part of my New Years Eve blogging about my job, I am currently knee-deep in @sapinker 2002 The Blank Slate, in which he takes a swipe at those who see the brain as ‘silly putty’ just waiting to be nurtured into shape by the surrounding environment.
“…the denial of human nature has not just corrupted the world of critics and intellectuals but has done harm to the lives of real people. The theory that parents can mold their children like clay has inflicted childrearing regimes on parents that are unnatural and sometimes cruel.”
I take my turn at this reflection on the assumption that I am not joining forces with proponents of ghosts in the machine or admirers of the noble savage. Nurture just means looking after yourself, right?
2014 marked my 20th year as a teacher. The champagne corks did not pop, as I realised that – what with changes in pensions – I am now further away from retirement than I was in 2013. But I might be said to be at the halfway point, and as such it proved to be a good year to reevaluate where I was and where I wanted to go in my career. In January this prompted me to apply for a full time post at the IOE London. For the first time since I had joined SLT 6 years before I had to rewrite my CV and shoehorn my experience into answers to 13 extraordinary questions. Just what relevance did it have that I had helped establish School Direct at London Met, or that I had reconfigured meeting and development time at my school? More importantly, what currency did my 20 years classroom experience have when it came to having credibility in the wider field?
Well, I did not get the job. But – as it appears to be true that they who dare win – I did get a job. So, since May I have been an associate at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning (@lcll_ioe), working with some of the best people in educational leadership. I have been devising and redeveloping leadership courses for them, and in the Spring we will be launching an online version of our PD leaders course. I have also been contributing to http://www.ioe-rdnetwork.com, the new website for IOE’s exciting partnership with schools engaging with and in research.
I am being stretched. I am constantly questioning my fitness for the role and imagining that one day soon they will rumble me. This, for a teacher in the job 20 years, is no bad thing. 2014 has been my year of living dangerously.
Moonlighting at the LCLL meant I had to relinquish my 5-day-a-week assistant headship and trade it in for exactly the same job, but on 4 days’ pay. My responsibilities actually expanded, but my role (pd, appraisal, ITT, NQTs, etc) stayed pretty much as was. The best job in the school. 2014 saw me recruiting yet more NQTs to the blogosphere, and it has now become customary for some colleagues to refer to composite research sites such as the EEF Toolkit before embarking on a new venture. 2014 also saw the expansion of our Lead Teacher team to four; we now have the capacity to confidently move forward on our school priorities, like literacy, assessment and differentiation.
20 years on I feel I am just hitting my stride as a teacher. I see more teaching than anyone else, I talk more about it than anyone else, and some of it is even rubbing off in my own classroom.
So I enter 2015 with a degree of personal confidence. As for the bigger picture, I am less misty – eyed. The twin juggernauts of curriculum redesign and assessment upheaval appear irreversible, and I fear that my own school, and the system generally, are ill – prepared. Figures may be quibbled with but September 2015 will inevitably see a chasm between the number of teachers needed and the number available. The May General Election will have little bearing on these realities. But it will matter. Labour’s commitment to a fully-qualified profession (replete with oaths and MOTs) may be more than some wish for, should they be elected. A Conservative reinstatement will surely see further – perhaps total – academisation, and the de facto removal of education from the state sector. (Realising young Letwin’s dream, as we read in recently declassified Cabinet papers.) 2015 may not be the year in which we see the revolution, but it may be the year in which its course is decided.
Happy New Year!