Session 122: Tri-topic special – Great Teaching, educated people & university

Session Title: Is it worth going to university? What does an educated person look like? What makes great teaching?
Date: Thursday 1st November 2012

Summary of the Session:
[pullquote]”What makes a great teacher?” may I refer you to “Man, if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” — Louis Armstrong[/pullquote]This was an experimental UKedchat with three quick-fire topic within an hour. Twenty minutes each to discuss three important and loosely connected topics:
– Is it worth going to university?
– What does an educated person look like?
– What makes great teaching?

Each topic is clearly worthy of a full hour of discussion and more, but this summary will look at each 20 minute topic in turn.

Is it worth going to university?

The discussion began with many chatters stating that it wholly depends on the individual’s goals and aspirations and many people commented on a number of highly successfully individuals who have taken a non-university route at the beginning of their career. There was some complaints that Government is seemingly pushing young adults towards university when many other options are open to them. Others suggested that universities have put together courses to lure students into paying fees when the qualification has little or no value.

There was a brief, but interesting discussion about the terminology for people taken a non-university route (this is my chosen phase). ‘Non academic’, ‘alternative route’ and ‘good with their hands’ were all discussed.

The majority of teachers do attend university before entering the profession and many tweeps regaled the forum with brief tales of their university days and how the experience of university has valve. A few people thought that this was mainly because of the freedom from parental tyranny. Others countered that by arguing that many students are opting to live at home while studying and found a similar experience.

Some UKedchatters commented that the things they learnt at university didn’t adequately prepare them for their career in the around the education sector. Others went as far as suggesting that university and formal study locks an individual into a particular mindset.

It was commented that students often attend university without a clear career path in mind. There were both positive and negative views to this, but the majority who voiced an opinion seemed to believe a general, but not specific focus was probably a good and safe idea in this rapidly changing word and it is important to follow what you enjoy.

Many chatters spoke about the apparent snobbery there is towards non-university based higher education and that vocational skills are under valued and much in demand in the country today.

Towards the end of this section of the discussion many people talked about the importance of experience and it seemed that many of the gathered tweeps went to university as mature students, myself included. Some suggested that his grounding outside academia helped them thrive once they chose to take the university route.

Notable tweets from this section
Jivespin: I have seen students pressured into going to university when it is not right for them. They end up dropping out with a huge debt #ukedchat

chris_j_fisher9: Career choice and aspirations are the main factors to consider when deciding on uni or not #ukedchat

EmFiges: Higher apprenticeship programmes can represent a real alternative to university – an aspiration and practical option #ukedchat

MonstersCanRead: University shouldn’t be the only option + it takes more than a degree to be a success. Students and young people need good advice. #ukedchat

nightzookeeper: #ukedchat I would recommend university solely based on my own experience! Not sure how much my undergrad shaped my career though…

syded06: @s_armitage @pbates76 @ukedchat the generalist will be best prepared for future employment. Specialism appears ‘dangerous’ option #ukedchat

What does an educated person look like?
At the beginning of this section many chatters discussed the important and validity of this question. It took a while for hatters to get gong on this question.

The forum began to focus on the characterises of an educated person and many suggests began to come. A list of positive attributes and a few darker traits can be found in the archive.

To summarise, UKedchatters discussed this difference between educated, intelligent, savvy and many other subtle shades of the myriad of traits that each of us rely on each day to navigate our way through 21st century life.

Notable tweets from this section

Li33ieBee: An educated person looks like someone who knows they have choices. Maybe looks quizzical cos they don’t accept face value? #ukedchat

e11iewe11s: #ukedchat Maybe someone who remains inquisitive about the world and continues to increase their understanding?

pbates76: @ukedchat ability to analyse? reflective? collaborative? good communicator? good team player? driven? #ukedchat

philallman1: #ukedchat is it possible to be over educated but not sufficiently learned?

day_tom: #ukedchat educated is a state of mind. Someone who wants to find out more. In search of knowledge. Wants to share it

Ideas_Factory: @ukedchat Agreed #ukedchat Society led by ignorant and privileged. Mistake is to presume money means educated…

What makes great teaching?
At 8.40pm the topic changed once more and turned to a topic which every teacher should have a passionate opinion on. Isn’t this what we all aspire, in full knowledge that there is always something to improve?

Many chatters spoke about educators guiding children through an engaging and differentiated journey of discovery to excite their passions and simulate their creativity and wonder for culture, human collaboration and ingenuity and the universe… while others talked about assessment. But both  innovative classroom teaching and assessment and many other attributes are integral parts of the 21st century educator.

Some chatters suggested that great teaching is build on good relationships with their students, while others spoke about being a good communicator is the key factor. Fun featured repeatedly in UKedchat at this point (and hopefully at every point) during the discussion. Many suggested that learning happens best when children were enjoying the task, activity or experience.

The question was posed whether OFSTED’s view of what makes great teaching was compatible with what the gathered tweeps thought make great teaching. There was a almost unanimous and resounding ‘no’, but some UKedchatters believed that one could ‘play the OFSTED game’ and deliver what they thought was great teaching for their class.

Many more suggestions were made to what makes great teaching and you should read through the archive for more details.

Notable tweets from this section

travelgeordie: Progress progress progress ofsted say but – true.  Depends what they progress with, habits/dispositions as important as knowledge #ukedchat

Monty_Math: #ukedchat Great teaching? When a teacher worries more about how much children are learning than their own performance – that helps!

LearningSpy: #ukedchat – what makes a great teacher? Helps to watch this every now and then:

cherrylkd: #ukedchat Great teaching is when you inspire and enable every child to achieve the best they possibly can.

Pekabelo: #ukedchat great teachers do everything you want your students to be like. Work hard, respond to criticism, listen, think creatively etc…

As dedicated educators, willing to give up a precious Thursday evening of their half term, we are constantly looking for ideas to improve our practice and move our students forward. We strive to provide educational experiences to help them thrive in the world of tomorrow and become educated people. This may include higher education and university study. But what is certain is that we must guide them to be thoughtful, creative, adaptable,  socially attuned and savvy children and adults. Some may even go into the teaching profession themselves.

How long will it be before some of our students discover UKedchat for their own classes I wonder…

Tweet of the Week
RachelKimberxxx: #ukedchat “What makes a great teacher?” may I refer you to “Man, if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” — Louis Armstrong


About your Host
Martin Burrett (@ICTmagic) is a Year 5/6 teacher at Mersea Island School in Essex and is an advocate for using digital technology to improve teaching and learning in schools. He founded the ICTmagic educational resource website and is a co-administrator for UKedchat.


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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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