Why does the world need another education blog?

Well it probably doesn’t and definitely not from me.  As I write this first entry I am zig-zagging between narcissism and masochism as typing each word is both tortuous and cathartic.

There are some fantastic education bloggers out there who I am sure you have spent much time with and I have found them inspiring, thought-provoking as well as those which are gut-wrenchingly awful and vomit inducing.  I guess I am aiming somewhere in-between.  Moreover, this is a project to refresh my teaching soul, a place to reflect and find solace in my thoughts and you dear reader are welcome to follow the good advice of the 1980s TV programme Why Don’t You and .. “do something less boring instead?”

Or not.  So here it goes …

We are entering a period of unprecedented curriculum and system change in the education sector which is beginning to fill me full of dread. I do not feel the system we have at the moment is perfect but I genuinely fear for what is about to happen to our schools and colleges and what that will mean for the young people currently stuck in the sausage factory.

I want to use this blog to explore my anxieties about teaching and learning during this period of change.   As a survivor of Labour and the Coalition’s education policies, I have always been able to put change into perspective and use it as an opportunity to do things differently. From the largely failed curriculum 2000 project to the ambitious early Academies of Andrew Adonis, I have mostly been able to see some point in the changes and the research on which they were based. I am not yet in such a place with the current proposals with at GCSE and A-Level, Progress 8 and the like. As many others have commented, the changes feel ideological and punitive. I am not against change per se, in fact I can see a strong argument for doing away with both GCSE and A-levels to make room for a more holistic baccalaureate system but I think that ship has sailed when Blair failed to fully adopt the Tomlinson proposals in the 1990s. I am left wondering whether we are about to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So here we are trying to cope with our Gove-ian inheritance.

At the same time, I want to have a space to reflect on my own learning and indeed my own teaching and learning strategies. I guess to some extent the advent of curriculum change opens the window to changing the way we deliver it. Everything can be up for grabs, there are no sacred cows. How will I adapt my teaching and learning to the new curriculum? What are my pedagogical guiding principles? What do I do that works and why? What can I do to improve things? My mind bubbles with ideas and strategies that I often forget as I move into the next crises, at school. I want a space to record them and give them flesh before I launch them on my poor unsuspecting students.

At the same time, I am mindful of the emotional content of a teaching and learning relationship. What is really learnt in my classroom? What gets taken away and what is left behind? The role of the teacher is often defined by powerful infantile phantasies. As teachers we occupy an emotional space left by parents, which makes our role prone to projection and transference. The muddling and muddied roles of parent and teacher give rise to anxiety and confusion. As teachers, we are ideally placed to become transfer relationships where the past experienced are re-enacted. Teachers are often idealised or denigrated. The task of the teacher is to understand and help process some of these unconscious forces.

The lack of awareness of unconscious processes in teacher training is neglectful. Current training courses and staff development offer little more than a ‘competency’ model. The fact that we send teachers into the classroom without an understanding of the concepts of projection, transference and counter-transference is damaging to the staff and students alike.  I want to use this blog to reflect on the emotional tasks of learning and teaching during a period of change.  I hope you find it as interesting and I do.  Well I hope it is not as dull as that all sounds, but perhaps gives me an agenda and focus in the next few months.