So it’s the 28th December and as I sit watching mindless Christmas television I turn over the channel and am faced with a 16-year-old boy who is trying to raise his three sisters and brother in an African slum. They are living next to an overflowing communal toilet and struggling to get by. His mother died of aids and his father was killed during the 2007 elections – that’s democracy for you!
It’s at this point that Lenny Henry breaks down and a tear comes to my eye. You can always rely on Comic relief to bring you back to earth with a bump. Then just before depression starts to kick in you are shown the effects of our donations and the 16 yr old in a new house that is clean and the sight of him and his siblings receiving an education. The education they receive is delivered in a breezeblock building with minimal resources, no computers or flash resources. The greatest resource they have is a desire to learn and the passion of their teachers.
This makes me think about what it is we are doing in our own classrooms. All too often we get caught up in the negativity of diminishing budgets, poor resourcing and the need to deliver a new curriculum that is progressive, inclusive and owned by the learner. The basic reality is that what is really important is the way in which we engage our learners.
Are they as passionate as their African peers? Are they as engaged and grateful to be receiving an education? Do we hold our own learners in high enough regard?
If I am being truly honest I have to admit that the pressures of running a department and changes to management structures and budgets does at times overshadow the real reason I joined this profession. As a result I do not fully engage with the learners I work for and with. Instead of engaging learners I become a lecturer and all to often exam focused rather than learner focused. As many people make their New Years Resolutions how many will reflect upon where they truly are and if they need to make changes to attitude and pedagogy rather than the usual giving up smoking or losing a few pounds.
What’s really important in your classroom? What will be your New Years Resolution?