A vision for teaching, but whose vision is it?
We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the travel and direction in which the teaching profession is heading. I am worried that, unless we take control of this opportunity, the teaching profession will be a rudderless ship. Teaching again will be a ship at sea battling turbulent seas and gale-force winds, being blown off-course and arriving at a destination not of its making nor its desire. This has been the experience of the teaching profession for almost two decades and it’s important that this opportunity is not squandered; that we take control of its destiny.
I believe that, at present, there is no vision for teaching. Currently teaching is seen as a tool to achieve short-term goals driven by the need to fulfil international, national, and local league table requirements. The focus is too much on what needs to be done and how teachers will achieve those outcomes; too little on addressing the why and how that fits within the bigger picture of teaching. This is an opportunity to shape the why of teaching and to have a body which will then be able to dictate what needs to be done. Not only will having a clear vision for teaching will help attract, train and retain top teachers, it will also elevate the teaching profession to the status in which it should be regarded.
The current debate surrounding an independent member-driven College of Teaching, the voice of teaching, has sparked considerable attention and debate. Not only has the debate caught the attention of those within education, both nationally and internationally, but it has also sparked considerable interest with those outside the profession. Everyone with whom I have debated the topic agrees that a College of Teaching is needed. The details of what shape and form the College of Teaching should take have provided even richer debates.
One thing is clear to me from the numerous discussions is that whatever form the College of Teaching takes – and yes, it will happen – it will need to be an entirely independent and member-driven organisation. Otherwise, it will join the graveyard of previous such attempts. The College of Teaching will also need to ensure it is truly representative by including a broad range of views at a strategic level to ensure that it has a broad view of teaching.
Everyone needs to join the debate to make our voices heard, and help shape the structure of the new College of Teaching from the outset. Teaching needs a voice; otherwise, as this quotation eloquently reminds us:
“If you do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.”