In a continuation of last week’s post I just wanted to share the following.
I took my change of attitude into college this week and in reply to the tutorial questions about how it is all going gave a very different response. I reported that all was fine, that I was exploring a number of different, but connected, threads and that I would like to show them how far I had got and where I thought it was going. The response from college could not have been more different.
Instead of dramatic warnings about time running out and needing to get a grip, the comments were all about what I thought I might call my pieces and how I might present the work! I DONT KNOW – I haven’t made them yet! I think this is an extraordinary turn around. Suddenly they think I know what I am doing just because of the way that I phrased my report on the week. I really don’t – I am no further on than I was before. I think I have some great ideas and I want to explore them but nothing about those ideas has changed except the response to my work. Now as a teacher as well as a learner I find this really fascinating and incredibly important! Just because a child tells me that they have no idea or they really have not got started yet does not mean that it is true – as a teacher, my job is to look properly and see what they have done. Then to encourage them on to the next step. In just one sentence I have the power to inflate their enthusiasm for a subject or a task or to completely puncture it. If, even as a mature student of many years experience, I can be so fundamentally affected by the remarks given to me by tutors with the very best of intentions, just think what influence a teacher of young minds has! This week has served as a most helpful reminder to me about the relative values of positive and negative feedback on both sides of the desk. It has poked me in the ribs once again about why it is so important for teachers to be learners too!
I believe this is part of my reason for wanting to teach those who find learning hazardous. I get immense satisfaction from that moment when, after believing, for whatever reason or as a some casual negative remark from someone significant – friend, teacher, parent – that a task is too difficult for them to grasp, they suddenly realise that there is a way through to understanding it. Eureka, their little minds yell – you do get it after all! It is also part of the reason that I never seem to want to stop learning. I delight in the discovery of new ideas. I spent so much of my time at school under the thumb of people who thought that I would never amount to much that now I find an extraordinary amount of joy in the discovery of everything new, even if I don’t quite get there at the same time or in the same way as everyone else.