According to the former Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, ‘we desperately need more mavericks in the classroom and in the headteacher’s office’. So what benefits can they bring pupils?
EVERY SCHOOL needs at least one full-time maverick to do things that wow, surprise, fuel wonder, unhinge and inspire. Ofsted have never prescribed a particular teaching approach and schools tend to like to play it safe.
But if it is in your nature to inspire, to excite, to do things differently, to add sparkle, to throw grit in the machine and to get young minds whizzing and spinning like Catherine wheels then it’s hard to be any other way.
Fred de Falbe, Headmaster at Beeston Hall School, says that although children needed consistency, there is a place for teachers thinking outside the box.
“To create a world of ‘the same’ amongst teachers would be quite wrong too. Teachers being different, teaching in different ways, is exactly the encouragement children require to become the flexible and responsive young people that are needed in tomorrow’s job market. Thinking ‘out of the box’, does, in some respects demand the teacher be able to step ‘out of the box’ himself or herself.
“I am loath to discourage the maverick, but who is he/ she operating for? His own ego or the needs of the endless variation of children?
We love the inspiring individual who has lasting impact on our lives, but having said this, much of teaching is about the process not the personality. Personalised learning, however, is gathering pace more and more so there is no excuse to be linear, boring or the same as the next teacher along – in fact that would be a horror too!
But, however true this may be, a quality that could do with some more air time is humility. This, in the 21st century, is where quiet purpose and creativity, can engage and inspire children.
As long as the axiom ‘it is for the children’ remains true we should surely embrace variety in all its glory.” www.beestonhall.co.uk
Nick Bevington, headmaster at Town Close School in Norwich says that allowing teachers to bring their own style and personality into classroom is hugely beneficial to everyone.
“Where as you want a similar curriculum experience across the school, what you don’t want is to make every person the same. Richard Kendrick, our history teacher, has managed to make history almost universally every child’s favourite subject, partly through the philosophical ways he tackles the subject and partly due to the power of his personality.
“Mr Kendrick teaches history in a way which is instantly relatable – he tells pupils; ‘These are your ancestors, your family, and it is like meeting your family.’ The human experience is essentially the same whatever the century. What were their worries? What did they do? What did they wear?
The pupils are more able to put themselves in that place. He avoids over intellectualising history, instead finding exciting, creative ways of bringing it to life, encouraging pupils to use their imaginations while learning.
“Few people have the gift to teach in that way, that breaks all the rules of their teacher training, but a school without one of those teachers, is, in my opinion, missing something.”
As long as the axiom ‘it is for the children’ remains true we should surely embrace variety in all its glory
Above: History teacher Richard Kendrick at Town Close School