in Education

Social Fabric

Torn SeatI’m becoming increasingly aware of the importance of schools as social fabric. Some cynics might call it my becoming more institutionalised, but I would disagree. There’s a reason why we can’t just break with what has gone before and radically alter schooling – witness the French and Russian revolutions, with radical changes such as 10-day weeks, equality of students and teachers, and attacks on the church.

No, I’m now a firm believer in evolution over revolution. That doesn’t mean that I’m happy to leave the profession at the end of my career pretty much in the state I found it. Not at all. Just because I’m focusing on evolution doesn’t mean it can’t be a speedy process. :-p

The reason for my change of heart is my family. Before I was a father I could afford to spend hours in the evening planning radically different lessons, putting together projects and writing proposals that would aid the rapid change of the focus of my school. Now, it’s my family I want to spend time with. Whilst teaching will never be ‘just a job’ to me, I very much more sharply demarcate time spent working towards education-related ends and that set aside for my family. Perhaps that’s why, on a poster which reproduces 19th century ‘rules for teachers’ in our staff room (put up for humorous effect) it says that women who marry will be dismissed instantly. Perhaps we need a profession of driven, single people?

But I think not. We need diversity in the profession. We need young people to come into contact with as many different types of people from different backgrounds as possible. Teachers, although they necessarily come from a smaller pool than that which reflects the world’s population, can still give students a taste of different perspectives. Instead, what we should be doing – which has been called for time and again – is give teachers more time and smaller class sizes so they can really make a difference. I’ve said this many times over the last few weeks, but it’s only since my Year 11s have left that I’ve had time to cope and keep up with the multitude of tasks I’m expected to perform in my daily life as a teacher. Given that ‘changing the educational landscape’ comes over and above that, there’s been some things that have suffered this year. Marking, especially of classwork, springs to mind immediately! :o

So, to return to the beginning of this post, schools need to change. We all know that. But we need to bring along all stakeholders with us, not just leave them behind. To some extent this involves ‘digital literacy’ (the subject of my thesis), but mainly it involves demonstrating by example how we can do things differently. And to do that, we need time. I, for one, am going to be looking to the future when allocating my education-related time next academic year… :-D

Image credit: Seat by Ti.mo @ Flickr

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  1. I find your post to be very though provoking. As I was leaving the office today my assistant principal was hard at work. She’s a Sister of St. Joseph and a woman religious. She has no family to worry about save the other sisters she lives with. She has the equivalent of almost two doctorate degrees and she is by far one of the most knowledgeable educators I know.

    I think Catholic schools and the quality of education they offer are in large part due to the sacrifices of religious orders over the years who had countless hours and energy to pour into the job.

  2. I find your post to be very though provoking. As I was leaving the office today my assistant principal was hard at work. She's a Sister of St. Joseph and a woman religious. She has no family to worry about save the other sisters she lives with. She has the equivalent of almost two doctorate degrees and she is by far one of the most knowledgeable educators I know. I think Catholic schools and the quality of education they offer are in large part due to the sacrifices of religious orders over the years who had countless hours and energy to pour into the job.

  3. Once I became a parent my priorities changed too. I used to work in boarding schools where everyone, pretty much, lived on campus and lived and breathed school. My life is much more in balance now, but I don't think I'm as good a teacher. I am lucky in that I do have small class sizes, and I have a reasonable amount of prep time, but I'm certainly not spending the hours every evening preparing that I used to when I was single and childless.

  4. Once I became a parent my priorities changed too. I used to work in boarding schools where everyone, pretty much, lived on campus and lived and breathed school. My life is much more in balance now, but I don’t think I’m as good a teacher. I am lucky in that I do have small class sizes, and I have a reasonable amount of prep time, but I’m certainly not spending the hours every evening preparing that I used to when I was single and childless.