So when I decided to put up my poster on Exeter High Street I hoped to let people know about my reasons for leaving teaching in the hope of raising awareness of how it truly feels to be both a teacher and child in many schools at present. I felt that I could say my piece and then set off into my new world of writing and illustration with an inner peace knowing that I had spoken from the heart and let children know that all of their talents are valued. I knew that there would be some people who would agree with me and that I would take comfort from knowing that all those times I felt in despair that I was, in fact, never alone at all.
What I hadn’t envisaged, however, was the outpouring of support for my poster and the discussions that have followed. I have been inundated with messages from past pupils, parents, colleagues and strangers who have shared with me their own beliefs, memories, worries, kind comments about my teaching, offers for work, website advice and a whole new world of emojis that I never knew existed. And from it all I have learnt one thing – the world is good.
Education has the potential to be so, so good. All of those people who have liked, shared and commented on my post have shown me, and more importantly, the children that there are so many people who are on their side. We all want the best for you. We all want you to be the best at what you love. It is so exciting to see people in love with what they do even if the subject matter is not your personal preference. When you see a child have that spark in a lesson it is such a joy and you can see what it is that fires them. And this is any subject. I reiterate that every subject is important to someone, who are we to try and dictate what someone feels in their heart? Yet here we are and all this isn’t happening. Why? I do not know. But what I do know now is that my love of teaching and education is stronger than ever and I will forever be involved. At the moment I am not sure how but I am eager to see what is out there.
As mentioned at the start of this post, I never intended on writing this but I felt that to not offer a response would be to start a discussion and then leave the room. The messages that I have been sent from concerned parents have really moved me to the point where I felt I had to respond in a way that I hope will connect with more people. So, I decided to film a video which is posted below.
I have done a lot of personal reflection over the last week or so and I have realised why the stifling of creativity in education was affecting me so much, and that is because of the huge help it has given me throughout my life. A quick search online will show you that the creative subjects in schools are being squeezed or, in some extreme cases, cut from the curriculum. The BBC reported in January that “Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman said academic subjects were the best route to higher-level study.” That is quite a bold statement if it is true.
This video comes with a couple of warnings.
1 – It is 12 minutes long. Some of you will immediately say ‘Nope’ and that is fine. But if you do decide to watch I am very grateful. I’m not on a stage or auditorium like a TedEx but if you close your eyes then you can pretend.
2 – It is, as you will discover, unscripted. I sat down with some notes and then just spoke. I know for a fact that I didn’t say everything I had in my mind but if you watch you’ll see why.
Well, it looks like you made it! If you watched it all then I am truly grateful. If you feel it is worthy of others seeing it then please share. If it helps one person know that they aren’t alone then it has been worth it.
I mentioned a couple of things that my hurried mind had missed and that is the fact that my own problems with nerves and speaking have lead me to miss out on many opportunities. I could never think quick enough so would either say something silly, something shallow and not reflective of my real thoughts or, in some cases, nothing. Phonecalls have always been an issue due to the ‘unknown’ of what is on the other end. As you can hopefully see in the video, I am much better now. My confidence is good and I feel ready to take on the world. What I hope is that this video may help other children (or adults) to know that they are ok, that they are understood and it might help them to find their voice earlier than I did at 36 years old.
So, where next? What next? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I am in love with world more than ever before.