An Ode To Teaching

The purpose of teaching, it seems to me,
Is for grown-ups to tell kids how they should be,
And to fill up their heads with the old way of thinking,
As they sit there in rows with their minds slowly sinking.

Do as I say, and not as I do,
Because by virtue of age I know what’s best for you,
I’ll spoonfeed you knowledge, you just have to chew,
Then spit it back out in exams like it’s true.

Curriculum planners have only one goal,
To standardise teaching and drain it of soul,
Art, dance and music are given a rest,
Cos they’re the subjects that’re hardest to test.

If you break with tradition and try making it fun,
The parents will soon have you back on the run.
“We turned out fine,” they eventually say,
“So give them more exams and even less play”.

Parents hate teachers for having a summer,
Teachers hate students for ending up dumber,
And students hate all adults, P, T and A,
For telling them what they should think and should say.

But there is a way forward, in my humble view,
And it’s simply to try to add something thats new,
To try to make lesson-time a bit more appealling,
By having the guts to ask kids how they’re feeling.


Well, with the creative side of the assignment out of the way, I think I should just clarify my own position a little further, and finish with a link to get any other teachers out there thinking.

I’ve been teaching English as a second language for over 11 years now (since I moved to Spain to live), and in that time I’ve seen a steady rise in the number of exams students are expected to pass, and thanks to the financial crisis, significant cutbacks in arts based subjects. I set up my own language Academy a couple of years ago with hopes of introducing a more creative and exciting way for students to learn, and what I’ve found most frustrating is the sheer volume of parents who just don’t get it. Sometimes it feels like they’re jealous of their own children, and don’t think it fair that their child should have more fun learning than they ever did.

Despite my rant, there are also plenty of parents who really get it, and when someone tells you they’re happy with what you’re doing, it makes up for all the moaners! I think it was the fact that I came into teaching late (and in a new country!) that I’ve always been drawn towards techniques that challenge the status quo, but there was one particular video that really opened my eyes, and I present it below to close this MOOC. It is the most popular TED talk ever, I believe, and it’s by Ken Robinson…

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