First day back at school today; an INSET day. No kids, just lots of very tanned, very healthy looking teachers all celebrating some excellent exam results and trading stories about the Summer. These early days back are full of hope and enthusiasm; something that rarely lasts until the end of the month, even.

As part of a session today, we were instructed to invent superhero teachers; to give them the super-powers and funky gadgets necessary to make the perfect teacher. We had a lot of fun with it. Our group, for example, kitted out our superhero with a utility belt that delivered fresh coffee on tap, and a headset that translated “urban” into English. We had a sonic-powered paralyser, as well… just in case.

What worried me, on hearing the ideas of other teachers, was this: So many of the powers and devices we would give to our teachers dealt with behaviour issues. Yes, we were having fun, but is a super-cane, or a magic-extending ruler to slap the kids with, really what we most need as teachers?? Other gadgets and powers included sidekicks that would do all our (relentless) admin for us, or microchips in our head that would “download” new initiatives and implement them (without us having to change EVERYTHING about the way we teach AGAIN just because it’s a new year).

But the worst…. the WORST… idea that I heard (that this particular group thought was their very best idea) was this: A time-travelling device so they could go into the future, see what was on the exam paper, and then teach TO THE TEST, so that their students would all pass.

This breaks my heart. THIS is the reason I have fallen out of love with teaching. If, or when, I have children, I want their education to be about learning for the LOVE of learning, and not for passing tests. I want them to get excited as they acquire knowledge, not focus on passing exams solely for the piece of paper… and where it might take them next.

I’m sure I’ve said it all before…. but, in the wake of the worst National exam results for a long time, I think it’s worth saying again.


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