Pedagogues – Learning Travel Agents and Guides.
New professional roles for the educational workforce are a pre-requisite for recycling schools and developing a personalised educational landscape.
If we recycle schools we must also consider recycling the roles of teachers and others in the educational workforce. Ultimately a personalised educational landscape will need an expansive and diverse human resource to guide, support and challenge learners. The existing workforce can migrate and develop into these roles but this will be a greater shift than is being undertaken in current remodelling, restructuring and modernisation agendas.
For some who have been heavily socialised into the current authoritarian, didactic and transactional teaching / instructional modes the transition will be challenging. However, it is most likely that there would be roles to meet all capacities and personal aspirations. Some would be able to act as the learning travel agents and guides – mentoring and coaching. Others would be able to be fully involved in co-constructing personalised curricula with learners. They would be the master educators or PEDAs (pedagogues – Meighan). Some would be concerned with working with learners on the existing catalogue curriculum. Yet others would work across all functions. Whatever, their role their central tenet would be that they would always be invited by learners. Adcock (2000) investigates the implications for a whole new concept of the teaching profession. But again, models for these roles do already exist in some form or another within contemporary learning systems (mainstream and beyond). We do not have to reinvent these ways of working, we just need to share them more widely.
Meighan (2005) likens the recycled functions for teachers to a shift from ‘miserable rule-followers’ to learning travel agents. He maintains teachers are prone to describe themselves as ‘miserable rule-followers’ anyway. A happiness in employment study showed that only 8% of teachers found their work enjoyable, worthwhile and satisfying (City and Guilds Survey reported in the Guardian, 25th Feb 2005). Under the arrangements for recycled schools, teachers would be more the invitational ‘guide on the side’ and less the imposed ‘sage on the stage’. Under these circumstances we might expect that their enjoyment of their work might increase.
When adults quiz parents about home-based education they often ask how one or two parents can replace the team of experts of a school staff. Apart from pointing out that we live in an information-rich society now, so that what the teachers know is available anyway, parents go on to describe themselves as ‘fixers’, ‘educational blenders’ or ‘learning site managers’ who help arrange the learning programme. They may also operate as learning coaches, or as fellow learners researching alongside their children, rather than as instructors. John Holt gives a useful summary of the qualities required:
We can sum up very quickly what people need to teach their own children. First of all, they have to like them, enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness, and passion. They have to enjoy all their talk and questions, and enjoy equally trying to answer those questions. They have to think of their children as friends, indeed very close friends, have to feel happier when they are near and miss them when they are away. They have to trust them as people, respect their fragile dignity, treat them with courtesy, take them seriously. They have to feel in their own hearts some of their children’s wonder, curiosity, and excitement about the world. And they have to have enough confidence in themselves, sceptism about experts, and willingness to be different from most people, to take on themselves the responsibility for their children’s learning.
John Holt (1982)
The University of the First Age details the dispositions and values required for deep learning. These relate principally to learner but equally they will also be a mantra for the recycled workforce.
UFA Dispositions and Values:
To encourage deep learning we believe it is necessary to value certain ways of thinking and acting:
Being ethical and responsible
Being open and generous
Being engaged with others
Being comfortable with complexity
Developing positive dispositions
Being able to transfer learning skills
Being able to accept challenge
Having an intrinsic enjoyment of learning
These dispositions and values shape and inform all that we do to encourage deep learning and they sit at the very heart of the organisation. They guide us and drive us. They create a context in which we develop all our processes, from learning teams to the National Network; acting as a filter for all that we deliver.
Adcock, J. (1995) In Place of Schools: London. New Education Press.
Adock, J. (2000) Teaching Tomorrow. Personal tuition as an alternative to school: Nottingham. Education Now Books.
Meighan, R. (2005) Comparing Learning Systems: the good, the bad, the ugly and the counter-productive: Nottingham. Educational Heretics Press.