It’s been an odd couple of weeks. First came the elation at making a life changing decision. I wanted to tell everyone, I am brave, I am brave, look how brave I am. Then came the fear. I woke up the day after I quit straight into a full on panic, what the hell had I done. That’s the moment I sat down and wrote “My love hate relationship with teaching”. It was, unsurprisingly, a cathartic process and reinforced my number one reason for walking away; the system is broken.
The more I think about it the more broken it is; new standards mean you could potentially get fired for not behaving in a manner appropriate to a role-model and fine upstanding citizen. To my knowledge, Doctors and Nurses, Policemen and Judges don’t. The new Ofsted grading means less of us are good-outstanding although what we used to do was more than good enough. It’s like if someone changed the GCSE grade boundaries and suddenly you all dropped a grade… Oh wait they did. The impending eBacc which threatens to finish off a number of opportunities for creativity.
Now, for years I have lived with the fact I cannot just take the kids out onto the field for a reading lesson, or do poetry without a specific learning objective or explore tangents that interest and inspire because they don’t tick a box but, in a country with such a thriving film and gaming industry, are we really considering limiting a generations chances to excel creatively?
There is a document called the Next Gen report (http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/assets/features/next_gen) which was, for me, inspirational. It looks at the gaming and special effects industry and how “the UK can be transformed into the world’s leading talent hub for video games and visual effects”. As a Media Studies/Drama teacher this became my grail. I would drop it into conversations during meetings and discuss it avidly at Media network groups. Finally, I thought, one of my subjects is being taken seriously. Long have I advocated that Media Studies is as, if not more, important than IT especially when you think about the social, moral, spiritual and cultural impact learning about the Media has. It also has a lot more in common with my other subject, English, in terms of analysis and exploring points of view. At last, I am not alone, I thought.
Turns out, according to The Russell Group (an association of 24 British Universities) Media Studies is a ‘soft’ subject. Suddenly this word was being bandied about everywhere. Not long after that came talk of the eBacc and a real push on the ‘hard’ subjects. Sometimes I wonder if putting someone in charge of something that they have no experience of is such a good idea after all? Like I said, the system really is very broken.
The week after I quit was half-term, a half-term in which I did no work. Now, teachers among you will appreciate the impact a decision like that will have while non-teachers will not, not so much. As I said before holidays are not really holidays, with the exception of the summer, they are times to get the marking and reporting etc. done that you can’t do when you are teaching. I should have been making a start on the 60 Expressive Arts GCSE portfolios I have to mark, or done some short term planning but I didn’t.
I found inspiration in Kevin Smith and Doc Brown, the former by way of my very good friend Tim. Mr Smith reminded me we are all going to die, some of us screaming, and with that in mind he tries to make every day count and every dream come true. I too shall endeavour to do the same. Every day, when I tell people what I am planning I quote the time travelling Doctor; I tell them like Doc Brown says “if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything”. I’ve even used that one in my GCSE classes when handing out predicted grades!
I know what I want to achieve and I will do my best to make it happen, no longer am I asking why? But instead why not? Why isn’t that possible? Why can’t I?
My parents didn’t kill me and are awaiting my arrival this evening ready to spend tomorrow creating a business plan. I have no idea how to achieve my goal but I do now know what my goal is.
Now I just need to find a way to tell the children…