A simple question today, but I’ve been scratching my head about it for 24 hours. What do I most love about teaching?
The standard answer: watching people grow into their potential. That is absolutely true. It’s what most educators – certainly most social purpose educators – would say, in response to this question. We don’t go into our beleaguered profession for glory or money. Having just faced down what my friend and colleague @kaysoclearn calls the ‘boom and bust’ of term-time working, I’m not sure going into it for the (unpaid) holidays is a wise move, either. What we get if we’re lucky is enough vicarious satisfaction through the achievements of others, to make the graft worthwhile.
But that’s not my answer, wonderful though it is to see people opening up their thinking, to read their reflexions, to watch it all play out in their teaching. What I most love about teaching is working with the #communityofpraxis I love the strength of weak ties, the sense of solidarity, the growth of enduring friendship along the way.
What excites me in life is new thinking – my new thinking (which is of course inspired by the thinking of others). I love changing my view. I love rooting out the corners of my mind and challenging the hegemonies I find there. I’ve been taking close account of the discourse around the Rotherham abuse tragedy and what I’m observing there is an almost complete absence of humility. I’m hearing and reading position-defending, blame, identity politics, single-issue arguments. There seems to be little appetite or courage for new thinking. I can almost guess what’s going to be said, when I know who will be speaking. Or Tweeting. @bonstewart wondered this week if ‘Something is Rotten in the State of…Twitter‘ and the conviction has taken told in me that those of us who are up for free-thinking need to hurry up and change the way human beings communicate, before the best chance to do that (the ‘democratic’ internet) is seized from us by manipulative entities and the chance of millenia is lost.
So, what do I most love about teaching? That education, as Mr Mandela said, is indeed the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. It’s the practice of freedom. It’s a gift and a responsibility. And every individual who goes away from us thinking for themselves is another contribution we make to changing the world.