Ask yourself: How many times have you been asked to think ‘outside the box’? Such requests usually happen when trying to reinvigorate the curriculum, or when faced with a new series of planning meetings. In fact, we can be so busy trying to think outside this metaphorical box, that we forget to look inside the blasted box! Bizarrely though, thinking inside the box can actually help you self reflect and is something that many teachers can easily lose sight of. Schools are full of brilliant teachers who have so much passion about their role, yet negative news, pressure and interference change many into ‘zombiefied’ armies who count down the days to the weekend, half-term or summer holiday break!
In their book, ‘The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher’, Gary Toward, Chris Henley & Andy Cope want to put an end to this zombie apocalypse – offering teachers a glimmer of hope that the pain and misery of certain aspects of the job are actually worth it. But times are changing, and this is illustrated notably in the book as various scenarios are presented comparing 1975 to the present time:
1975 – Crowd gathers. Johnny wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best mates for life.
Present – Police called, arresting Johnny and Mark and charge them with assault. Both are expelled even though Mark started it. Both children go to anger management programmes for three months. School governors hold a meeting to implement bullying prevention programmes.
Robbie won’t keep still in class and disrupts other students.
1975 – Robbie is sent to the head teacher’s office and given six of the best. He returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt the class again.
Present – Robbie is tested for ADHD and prescribed huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. Robbie’s parents get fortnightly disability payments and the school gets extra funding from the state because Robbie has a disability.
At the time of writing, the time line difference of these scenarios is 30 years, and the authors ask us to imagine how the world will change in the next 30 years! Scary thought, but the crux of the message is to enjoy the world today, as it is the world we will look back on with fondness, probably laughing at ourselves at how seriously we take it all.
This is just a brilliant book for teachers. It doesn’t care, and go on, about inspection regimes (We like books that avoid giving the O word too much attention). It doesn’t care about policies and the successive interferences and mess governments have left in their wake.
Published by Crown House Publishing, The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher by Gary Toward, Chris Henley & Andy Cope is available in PaperBack or via Kindle. Click the Amazon link here to view.