Class­room mav­er­icks

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?

EDP Norfolk - - Education - town­

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.bee­ston­

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

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