“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” – Plato
I was struck by the aptness of this quote with regards to current uncertainty surrounding the future of education in our schools. As a group of English teachers, we are conscious that over-testing of children and the pressure this puts on them may impact negatively on their creative engagement with English. We are also aware of the omission of a spoken language element from the 2014 National Curriculum for English. Interestingly, we spent yesterday exploring the benefits of storytelling and speaking/listening. It was inspiring to explore the place of storytelling in the classroom and its role in ‘amusing’ children’s minds, encouraging creativity and enjoyment in English. This was a very worthwhile session that motivated me to think of ways I could implement what I had learnt into the classroom to help students become critical thinkers, equipping them with communication skills for the future, and utilising methods (such as Visual Thinking Strategies) to engage them in learning.
I have also learnt the importance of recognising that a teacher is a ‘life-long learner’. A good teacher is one who continually reflects on, and develops where necessary, their knowledge and teaching style to ensure the best outcomes for students. To develop my immediate subject knowledge however, I have chosen to focus on three areas: enhancing my knowledge of the history of the English language, familiarising myself with recent and contemporary literature/playwrights and improving my knowledge of the Romantic poets. Given that I studied literature at university and sidestepped poetry modules, these are areas that I need to build upon before I would feel competent teaching them. To start with my first target, I have begun reading David Crystal’s The English Language. This is written in an appealingly relaxed yet informative style and I think it will prove useful as it also takes into account the impact of technology on English. Alongside this, I have started reading ‘A Greyhound of a Girl’ by Roddy Doyle; this is a touching, contemporary, teen fiction novel and one I will review shortly.
We have covered a wide range of topics this week, from Inclusion to learning styles (visual/auditory/kinaesthetic), and with regard to both teaching practise and subject knowledge. Having learnt so much in little over a week, I am looking forward to seeing what the next week brings as we lead up to our first school placement.