February 04, 2003
You are probably a teacher yourself

One of the reasons I set this education blog up in the first place was that I hoped it would give me an excuse to ask questions of people that would immediately take the conversation above the level of trivia. And it works, let me tell you. I find that the question: Education – how about that? is often an instant ice-breaker and profundity provoker.

In particular I have taken to collecting teachers, in the sense that I am trying to identify as many different attitudes to and techniques of teaching that I can discover out there.

I recently gave a talk around the subject of this blog and its contents. Instead of just starting the discussion part of the evening by just sitting there and waiting for questions, I instead asked everyone present what kind of teaching they'd done in their lives. There was only one "teacher" present, but there was also, it turned out, a home schooler, and almost everyone had done some teaching of one kind or another, guest lecturing, staff training, or some such. There was even someone present who used to perform regularly at Speaker's Corner, which sparked off an immediate discussion about the similarities between teaching and political propaganda. Speaker's Corner, if you're wondering, is a little part of Hyde Park Corner set aside for anyone who wants to to speak about anything he wants to speak about. Bloggers Corner before blogging, you might say.

The link between regular education and propaganda, if you're wondering about that as well, is, of course, that in regular teaching you often also have to persuade, rather than just to instruct. You often have to persuade your pupils that what you want them to learn is worth learning.

Are you a teacher? You probably are. Think about it. There you go, I told you you were. You worked in a night club and taught drink serving to drink servers. You have customers, who have to learn quite a lot about the kinds of services you are providing if they are to get their money's worth, and you've learned that some techniques of "education" simply don't work on these people, while other decidedly odd ones work very well.

The underlying assumption behind all this is that the one place in the world where education is now pretty stagnant is … schools! Practically everywhere else in the world, and especially of course in the home and at "work", education is roaring ahead. And the chances are you have not only received education in such circumstances as these; the chances are you've also been a provider of it.

At the top of this it says: "E-mails and comments welcome from teachers and learners of all ages."

Do I make myself clear?

Only too clear, I guess. But don't worry, don't feel obliged to respond if you don't entirely feel like it. BEdBlog will bash on regardless, I assure you. If there are no contributions from the class, I'll just keep on chalking and talking. The above began life as a mere introduction to a piece about teaching in the British Army.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:05 PM
Category: This blog