The next big thing

20th February 2015 at 12:43

The most significant classroom innovation in the next ten years should be the rise of the autonomous teacher-professionals, no longer happy with a status quo that entails they deliver the curriculum and pedagogy of the educational establishment like some kind of mailman; people who collaborate with each other in mutual cooperation; teachers who swap, share and support each other outside of the traditional educational structureswho meet and train each other in situations like Teach Meets, or researchED conferences, where they find out for themselves the answers to the questions that their classrooms need.  


Attempts to mortify and codify teaching have left it vulnerable; exposed and stripped of the core of what it meant to be a teacher. Too many school systems see teachers fearful of their jobs and looking to external systems of validation as the only lens through which to view professional development. Is it any wonder that in this atmosphere, teachers forget what it was that drew them to the profession in the first place? Is it any wonder if, despite unprecedented wealth, many of our school systems still struggle to match the quality of much poorer nations? 


Social networks and globalised communication has meant that, for the first time, teachers can reach out to each other and share their practice, ideas, and experience for free – voluntarily and altruistically. There's a new gold buried under the earth: teacher power. That's the future, if we want it. Tech is a fine tool, but it's an expensive way to do a job that needs to start with the skilled practitioner. Flipped classrooms and blended learning and digital magic bullets are an impediment to the basic structure of the best school dynamics, where highly trained professionals know their students, their subject, and their pedagogy, intimately. That's what the future holds, if we're lucky. If we're not, it's magic beans and magic bullets and apps and MOOCs. And we'll look back in ten years time and wonder why it didn't work. There's a choice for us; we stand at a crossroads. If we're brave, we'll choose teachers over apps every time.