The Frustration of Vindication: Surfing the Wave of Change

There are many exciting things emerging in education at the moment.

All sorts of educational big-wigs are blowing us away with their theories about how learning should be. Revolutionary ideas about the power of allowing students to work on the things that really interest them or the intrinsic motivation of allowing kids to focus on making, doing and creating are eloquently being delivered in high profile keynote speeches.

And, it seems, school decision-makers are listening.

This is, of course, exciting.

But, for many of us… those teachers who have been giving our students these opportunities for many years – and often getting in trouble for it – the feelings are mixed. There is a sense of frustration, and exhaustion,  among those of us who have been swimming against the tide for so long. We cannot help thinking of all those times we got called in to be told to “stop doing that stuff because the other teachers aren’t doing it”. We cannot help lamenting our fallen colleagues – those who were so good that their difference from the masses led to their downfall. We cannot help feeling sad about leaving schools we have given up on and moved on, again, in the hope of being surrounded by more like minds. We cannot help thinking about all those “nearly” teachers who almost developed the strength to teach differently, but didn’t quite make it.

Sounds like sour grapes, doesn’t it? At times like these, teachers like these face a serious dilemma. Do we say “I told you so”? Do we react negatively and pompously and become a bit of an ass about it? Do we turn in on ourselves, because that has been our survival strategy for so long?

No. We are surfers… and the big wave we have been waiting for is approaching. Yes, we have been honing our skills on all the small waves on the inside for a long time – and we’ve been bashed about a bit in the process. But, our wave is finally on the way… and we need to re-position ourselves, make sure we are in the right place and enjoy the ride.

We deserve it.

Photo by Jeff Rowley

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6 comments

  1. yourbesteffingfriend

    Being told off by your line manager for daring to teach differently from other people – sounds like a poor excuse for an educational leader. I have to say though, I’ve been there too… and got told off, and responded by questioning my (then) principal’s educational training, experience and philosophy. Went down as you would expect, not too well and ended in kind of like a stale mate ultimately, where no one was willing to give ground. I just moved on at the end of the school year, as is common in the international schools system, and the lesson in question has since been utilised at a few seminars as a discussion starter. Like you said, funny how things come full circle.

    • sherrattsam

      When it happened to me, I was basically so dumbfounded that I forgot to question it. Good for you for being that strong, but I am sad to hear that the end result – moving on – was the same as it was for me who didn’t question it!

  2. jan hawkins

    As long as we all have our learners at the heart of what we do. As teachers we will be most effective trialling, trying the methods that make us BUZZ then we all win. But that particular wave is too big and just looking at the image makes my heart falter. And that has been my journey in ICT but I’m ready to surf now!

    • sherrattsam

      I am very glad to hear it! What do you think the biggest thing in the wave – for your subject – is going to be?

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  4. brette lockyer

    Thanks for the great post – enabling me to hang in there. To me, the ‘big wave’ is not just about student learning, but also about the future of the planet. The ‘big wave’ requires a broad vision of what school is all about.
    Meanwhile, I have oft heard The Pixies ‘Wave of Mutilation’ in my head while pondering my place in education…
    cheers
    Brette

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