Ad – This is a collaborative post with The Mead School, Tunbridge Wells.
Ahead of The Mead School’s Open Morning on Thursday 13th May, Headmaster Andrew Webster explores the importance of creative teaching and how it inspires a life long love of learning…
If I had to give today’s young trainee teachers one piece of advice, it would be to never be a slave to the curriculum. Traditional teacher training pathways, in my view, create a dangerous cultural norm where young teachers aim to gain ‘qualified status’ within the first two or three years of their career. The truth is that teaching is a lifelong vocation, one where its practitioners should be continuously evolving and improving their approach and never rest with a feeling that they are ‘qualified’ or ‘experienced’ enough.
Independent schools align themselves closely to the National Curriculum and rightly so, given that there are some irrefutable and fundamental skills which all children need to learn. However, the National Curriculum, by its nature, can sometimes create a passive, tick box culture among teachers where there may be the tendency to never dare to stop and ask the question; “Why do they need to know this?”
At The Mead, our class teachers aim to avoid referring to themselves with a year group prefix, “I’m a year 2 teacher etc.,” as it encourages a mentality that a set curriculum needs to be delivered. With such small classes, our teachers are blessed with the ability to teach to the class and tailor a curriculum which suits the group of individuals in front of them.
Equally, we are passionate about joining the dots and ensuring the content we cover (in a world where all information is at our fingertips and educators are no longer the source of all knowledge) is both inspirational and relevant. We thread thematic links through our topic work and simultaneously deliver high standards of expertise with specialist teaching in Music, Drama, French, Sport, Science, Art & Humanities.
More than anything else, school should not be a passive experience where teachers deliver the content they’re told to and children sit and receive it. There should be an energy running through a school based on a common appreciation of what we’re here to achieve and why it’s important that we do so. This sense of purpose coupled with a culture where teachers feel empowered to be inspirationally creative and follow a tangent sparked by the children’s interest has the potential to create a deep love of learning (in both the children and the staff) that can last a lifetime.
Andrew Webster, Headmaster, The Mead School, Tunbridge Wells