Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reasons for (my lessons) Losing Focus

So apart from the obvious (well actually rather convoluted) reasoning of my Past, Present, Future post there are some other thoughts about why my lessons lose focus.

As I'm writing this post, I'm wondering if my lessons in school are actually a metaphor for my life?

1) Being told what to do
This can annoy everyone to their core.

The government dictates educational policy. The National Curriculum was designed to ensure standards are maintained in the UK. I don't know the stats about how this country fares against others, but the general feeling is that it's not as good as it could be.

Whatever it is, I read an interview with a headteacher in the TES a couple of weeks ago. She said if she were Education Secretary for one day, she would allow teachers to teach children, and make the teaching profession less prescriptive.

It's this prescriptive nature that perhaps makes my lessons lose focus - I don't want to teach just the syllabus; my pupils come to me with a whole range of issues - not just with the subject I teach them, but across all areas of life...am I a subject teacher or a teacher?

2) It’s a timing thing.
I know there's only a certain amount of time I am able and willing to listen to someone.

Or perhaps it depends on how the material is put across to me, or how interested I am in it?

Maybe there is an optimum length for a lesson. It can be too short, it can be too long: half-an-hour might be too short; an hour and ten minutes might be too long. That's the opinion of one of my colleagues (you can guess how long our lessons are!)

This colleague felt that could be why my lessons lose focus...it's a timing thing. I can't expect pupils to listen or engage with a particular subject for too short or too long an amount of time...

That puts the emphasis on me, and my lessons - if I put it across in an interesting way, the pupils will pay attention - regardless of how long a particular lesson is...

3) The system is failing
Of course the other big reason why my lessons lose focus is that I’m teaching within a system that’s fundamentally flawed. Ok so the government creates a policy and implements it. But some have said it’s the way our entire system is structured that’s the problem. The National Curriculum is just a symptom.

Is it just my job being a teacher? Or is it a calling? A vocation? An opportunity to make a difference? To influence the future leaders of our world?

What is a teacher? A subject specialist? Someone who is excellent at crowd control? Or a ‘those-who-can’t-do-teach’ type person?

Perhaps my lessons lose focus because I feel I’m more than just a particular subject teacher. Maybe I’m responding to something deeper and more profound?

Other educational systems like Waldorf Education, Montessori Schools, or just home-schooling offer alternatives.

Other books and theories suggest emphasising the skills not the subjects (e.g. effective communication or conflict resolution) would better prepare them for the world we live in.

Who knows? I could be barking up the wrong tree.

All I know is that I like my job and I enjoy interacting with young people.

The vaguest notion that I’m contributing to society keeps me going, and I guess that's what matters.