The best teachers are those who are ready and willing to learn themselves

OPINION

SEVERAL concerned Dubbo parents obviously read last week's column about the serious defects in the classroom methodology where all students do the same work.

I have since happened to meet some of them. They were absolutely correct that all students have the right to access the curriculum at their own specific learning level.

Furthermore, many parents were particularly interested in the educational philosophies of the current British government international Ofsted Inspector, 'Alan'.

Regular readers of the Daily Liberal would be aware I have often used information I obtained in my recent extensive interview with him. His 40 years' educational experience makes his contribution invaluable.

I met Alan in 2003 when he gave a maths' seminar at a teaching staff development day in Manchester. If there is one trait that most readily characterises him, it's a saying he regularly employed during this seminar, "The best teachers are those who are still active learners".

One of the worst classes possible for bad manners is not found in a Dubbo school.

There's none ruder for talking when someone else is speaking or displaying complete disregard for other individuals in the room, than adult teachers on a weekend staff development day. And, of course, many of them return to class on the Monday to lecture students on how to conduct themselves.

In Manchester, Alan ran the room of teachers the way a school classroom should theoretically be run.

This seminar was like many other gatherings of teaching staff undertaking out-of-school-hours training. There is always one who must be heard above the rest.

When Alan talked about a proper classroom procedure, one teacher did not hesitate to inform us that not only had she always carried out this strategy with her class, but apparently did it to perfection.

That was when she was not handing out business cards promoting her little extra-curricular Information Technology business.

At one stage, this teacher took it upon herself to answer Alan's question even though he had actually asked someone else. She was soon pulled into line.

In accordance with his assertion that "The best teachers are those who are still active learners", it seems some of us fail to pick up on all sorts of personal failings.

Obviously, teachers are not unique in this regard, as Alan later emphasized to me about the seemingly harmless Manchester incident, "some people get to 55 and no one has ever said to them, do you know that's not acceptable".

One of the things Alan did at this seminar was to speed everything up.

If teachers were not quick enough with their response, they soon copped a "too slow", and before you knew it, someone else was given your opportunity to display knowledge.

In subsequent weeks, many seminar participants often met up and it was apparent how many of us took this strategy back to our classrooms.

Of course, it's a two-way street. Once the students picked up on it, you soon got a "too slow" response in class if they asked a question and your response was quick enough.

Yes, as Alan maintains, "The best teachers are those who are still active learners". But to be humble is to be teachable. So maybe it's also those with the greatest inclination to learn who are the most active teachers.

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