A short while back we had a prac’ teacher arrive at the school. I was due to take the class late one Friday afternoon – our regular technology session. Asks the earnest and keen young thing “Can I come and watch you teach?”. I of course answered with the expected answer – No.

In response to the puzzled, confused, unsure look spreading across his face I could barely suppress the grin that was building from roughly knee level. He asked, quite politely I thought, if I was simply too concerned, shy or even worried that he might be critical as a result of watching. This is something that has been of no concern from the first day I stepped into a classroom – I have no problem with anyone watching me. Like me or not, it doesn’t matter – in fact if you actually don’t like what I do , that has much merit. It means you had to engage with the content, and have an opinion and have had to think about it. All good things.

Shortening the otherwise long story – I explained to him, I am far too old, too busy, and too lacking in ego to believe I can teach any one anything. I just turn up occasionally and watch them learn. Set the project give them the skills, material and opportunity then get out of the way.

Actually it has taken me some years to be able to do this. As a “teacher” I feel that great propensity to add some more info, to re-state the process, to just add one more bit of info, to sneak in a bit more instruction, to relate it to some other bit of work, to, to, to.

It’s actually hard to do this stepping back. There’s the pressure of having to get the through the standard test that inevitably comes, to be able to write something vaguely positive sounding in those useless academic reports, cover the syllabus, do like everyone else does, and so on. All compel us to squeeze in more info, more jug to mug, more stand and deliver. It isn’t easy to let kids do what they do so well. Learn.

The older I get, the more I get to know about myself, the more I try to make this all I do. I’m there to watch, guide and help them learn. They’re good at it. Just be there to assist.

You’re still welcome to watch me – I just hope to be the least active part of a classroom that hopefully is buzzing with real education.

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