This brings me to the point of the blog. Is it best for a class to have one style of teaching, one style of education, the same level of discipline or the same lack of discipline, all the way through their primary school years or is best for them to experience a variety?
The classes I have taught before have never had teachers with such a variety of clear cut styles. I never even thought it was possible to get such a variety until I worked at my current school. I thought it was consigned to film-fiction, hence being able to quote from several completely different films. Of course most schools have their few characters, mostly geriatric traditionalists drinking out of Miss Trunchbull mugs in the corner of the staff-room. Answering the slightest questioning of their oracle with a Professor Crawford's "Are you challenging me?" On the flip side, every school has their resident teacher living in the Crusade-era of Poitler's East London mission. Regardless of these characters, most teachers I have worked with are a hybrid of styles, nothing too clear cut but a sort of solid style that works to the ebb and flow of the educational tide.
Joking aside, having a set of children that have had teachers with such clear cut styles, a powder-keg of educational influence, makes for brilliant reflection.
Having worked with this class for a term, getting to know and understand a class who seem to have had their own Dead Poets Society last year it has had the most profound influence on my assumptions. A primary school class is a being, it evolves in the most incredible way possible. Children have such an adapt curiosity that they can almost, in a Stockholm Syndrome manner, learn to love whatever is put in front of them. It is the very nature of having a teacher for a whole year. I ask the question: does that constant change of style and teacher have positive or negative connotations? I would say that it makes the children versatile. They learn that society is made up of different people with different backgrounds and different manners and styles. They learn how to behave with various types of people. They don't have 7 Years of falling asleep into a textbook, nor do they have 7 Years of thinking about fairies. I want to work in a school where I know every new class I get have experienced as much of a variety as you can conceivably get in a school. I want to get a class that makes me want to change the way I do things or confirms that I'm doing this the right way. I want to be challenged by the complex being that is a class. I want the previous class to have experienced hiding a secret rock band from the headteacher's learning walks. I want them to live a year in a class with a row-walking, no-talking, chalk throwing, just a plain old capital shock of a teacher. Even better if they have been taught an artistic talent so realistic they can draw a derogatory picture of me under the desk while my back is turned. If the class hasn't experienced Mrs Strict then I consider they just haven't lived. I want a class to have known special teachers who could teach in a way that they believed in.
The only way this works is if people are given the trust, freedom and independence to truly teach the way that suits them. Nothing makes for a terrible year more than having a teacher who is day-in day-out compromising on their principles or teaching in a way that doesn't feel right. You get a teacher who is trying to be all things to all people and they constantly compromise to incorporate: current policies, their background, their own ideas on parenting, experiences in their own schooling, the school's 'changing with the wind' policy, the new curriculum and debate on the style you should be this lunar month. Teachers move away from a natural, personal and passionate style to ticking boxes and making sure they appear the way they should. Children get mixed messages about the way people are and the way adults conduct themselves.
I want to see a change. I want to see the climate change to one that values diversity of everything. New teachers and old teachers. Progressive and traditional teachers. Teachers who dress up as Indiana Jones and teachers who get mistaken for Mary Poppins. If we can bring a wider diversity of styles to schools and give teachers the trust and freedom to professionally deliver, I believe we can nurture versatile and resilient children. Children who value that everyone is different, even teachers.