Tomorrow I’m visiting my new school for a meeting with the person who’ll mentor me through my NQT year, which starts in August. This should be an exciting time as I prepare to start my first job of a career which I’d hope to commit a serious amount of time, effort and passion to over the next however many years. In spite of this, I’m currently debating with myself whether I should share with my mentor the fact that I have serious doubts over the likelihood of me completing the year. This doubt isn’t based on the fact that I find teaching difficult – I find it incredibly difficult, but so far I’ve enjoyed that challenge and I’ve managed to deal with it pretty well – but because during my PGDE year I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence to the extent that I’m not sure whether I can put myself through another year of guaranteed frustration.
My issues with CfE include :
1. Confusing, vague and meaningless Experiences and Outcomes.
2. A focus on skills over knowledge.
3. Hero worship of John Dewey.
4. Insistence on progressive, child centred teaching methods.
Funnily enough a year ago, before starting teacher training, I’d have completely agreed with numbers 2-4 (probably that’s what what gained me my place on the course). So what changed? Well, as much as I hate to blow my own bugle, I’ve done some reading. A lot of reading. Over the last twelve months I’ve read a ridiculously huge number of blogs, research articles, books and essays on the topic of education, to the point where it’s been in danger of taking over my life (just ask my girlfriend). As a result my definition of what makes good teaching has changed significantly.
There’s loads I’ve learnt during my PGDE, and I’m bursting to put it into practice. But the vast majority of what I’ve learnt hasn’t been taught to me by the university, but I’ve learnt through reading books and communicating with experienced teachers online. It remains to be seen whether I’ll be given the freedom to teach in the way I see best for my pupils, or whether I’ll be forced to comply with a system I don’t believe in.