Occasionally, I am told that I’m too critical of teachers and schools. I’m told, every now and then, that I should spend more time focusing on the positives than pointing out the negatives.
But here’s the thing... I am more passionate about education than I am about anything else. I have dedicated my career to helping teachers improve their competency and schools improve their systems.
When I work with teachers, I work to help them recognise and build on their strengths and identify and resolve their weaknesses.
When I write about education, I do tend to write about the problems, the cracks, the failings. Because I want to shine a light on them. Because I want us to all be looking at these things and trying to fix them.
I started in education almost 14 years ago, and I very quickly realised that I was interested not just in teaching as an action but as a concept too. I wanted to work out what good teaching was, how good learning happened, how we could increase the quality of education across the board, for all students.
It was around the time that I began directing my career this way that I first discovered Ken Robinson’s work. His famous TED Talk was my first introduction to his views on education, and I immediately tracked down every video I could find to hear more of what he had to say.
At that time, he seemed to me to be a lone voice, saying things that I had been feeling about education and schooling since I was a student myself. It felt revelatory to see these ideas being presented on such a global platform.
I couldn’t get enough of Sir Ken’s words, and I bought all of his books, even asking family to bring copies from overseas when they visited me.
I have been training teachers and consulting with schools for the past 6 or 7 years now, and I can say honestly that not a day goes by that I don’t think about Ken and his words. By this point, so many of my words are really his words. Not just his ideas, but even his phrasing, his intonation has crept into my speech.
I know for a fact through the many fascinating and inspiring conversations that I have had with other educators from around the world, that I am far from the only one who was so powerfully affected by Ken’s passion—not to mention his brilliant humour—and so, while his loss will be greatly felt by all of us, and by the system he worked to improve, I know that we will be carrying his words and ideas with us in our own work and doing everything we can to keep his vision alive and to finish what he started.