What did the teachers have to say…

…about the purpose of schooling?

❝To learn. To grow.❞

❝Social skills.  Because that is one thing that they won’t get at home to interact with other children.  Social behaviour…with the other kids.❞

❝They should be challenged. It might be socially or it could be emotionally.  It could be physically, academically.  It could be just in expanding their general knowledge, but to be challenged in a lot of different ways so they do see some sort of growth in all different areas.❞

❝You know, at home they are just themselves whereas in school it is not only social skills but it is other things that a school has because of our infrastructure probably we can offer.❞

❝…it is academics, social skills, physical skills, emotional…well-being, all of that put together.  And I suppose a lot more.❞

❝The research is that we teach them the knocks of life.❞

❝Currently, most schools [are] set up to create a work force, and much more a work force that was designed for the 19th and 20th century than a work force that we will have this year, next year, [in] 20 years, 50 years… Is that what I think the purpose of school should be? No.  Is that what I think schools are at the moment.  A lot of them, yes.❞

❝…surely school should be a place…that enables individuals to come together to understand each other and to become better people to take the world forward.❞

❝…there is a very, very delicate balance where you have the individual potential at one end and contributing member of the society.  And as soon as you disconnect the two ends, you have geniuses in their own right who are in a destructive mode or who have anti-social behaviours or who do not know how to connect.  Or you have just randomly taking ideas. They can’t frame a sentence, but they are yakking away, you know, in a digital mode.  So, I guess, the two needs have to be balanced.❞

❝We are not just pouring content – we are dealing with personalities…❞

❝If you didn’t have schools, I think each child would be unique.❞

❝…I think that sometimes random particles, geniuses in their own right, wandering around the street, may not be able to construct something that the society may have need for.  So who should be their discerning eye? The parents and the teacher.❞

❝…we find they are more productive with some sort of boundary.  Absolutely.  And so we have boundaries in school.  It’s just where we choose to put that boundary.  You can always come up with a new game with totally different rules, but there needs to be a common ground…❞

…about assessment for learning?

❝I think that society is terribly competitive… so, by putting a grade on and challenging people to be better and to beat a certain limit or a certain mark, then it does sort of say, “Here’s that competition, so you need to look at these things to actually improve”.❞

❝I think there is a place for taking away some of the grading that happens… Over the last…25 years that I’ve been teaching, we have gone too far in the grading side of it and I know in the classroom I feel like I do more grading and more paperwork in a practical subject than I am doing in the practical side of it.  So I think it goes too far…❞

❝I think it is extremely difficult, because we are dealing with human beings, but we have become a society, really, where apples and eggs are graded.  Consumers, discerning consumers are so picky on that. …How can you expect an employer to hire someone without any standards there?❞

❝We don’t want to label that kid and say you are irredeemable, but, maybe I’m thinking, I’m looking at PE.  They have to play for the fun of it and at the end of it you have to [know] who crossed the winning line.  So maybe a balance.  That’s what a teacher needs to do.  Keep a balance between a non-graded assignment and a graded assignment.❞

…about democratic education?

❝…it’s great if kids can find something that they want to do and they enjoy and they want to pursue.  But if you don’t know everything that’s out there and you are not exposed to what’s out there, then how do you know if you are going to like it?  …And I think that’s one of the things that schools do very well: …kids are exposed to stuff they may never have considered before that they might decide that they are actually going to enjoy and to go on from there.  And I think that exposure is a really big thing.  You don’t know if you’ve never been exposed to it.❞

❝Some of the standard schools in India [the teacher:pupil ratio is] 1:45. And how do you empower 45 kids?  The teacher would get beat up every morning!❞

❝I believe children are born curious and with an innate sense of creativity… Often what I feel is that creativity and that curiosity is kind of trampled on as a part of school…as soon as you tell a child that the sky must be blue and the grass must be green: why must it, when making a painting? I don’t know.❞

❝We actually have to unlearn and then learn again and then become facilitators.❞

…about their perfect school?

❝Space. … I think that would make a big difference to what we have now.  Having more space for them to go in and out whenever they want.❞

❝I would like to see nature within the school. … I find so many kids just don’t have a real sense of where their food comes from, so much of life comes from, so much of the outdoors and nature I think is missing.❞

❝…if I were a kid, I would choose possibly my teacher, what grade I am going to, what level I want to be.❞

❝…when I was at school, I would have loved to start school at 2 in the afternoon and finish at 10 in the evening.  I would happily teach that now…and it’s the same with the kids…Especially with teenagers, particularly.  Even with some of the younger ones, you can see it, some of them are just not morning people, like me.❞

❝I can think of just one more word – choice. … Even a PYP 1 or 2 kid, if you brainstorm with them, “How should we assess this?”, they have ideas too.  So the word is empowerment…at every step: …choice of assignment, choice of assessment, choice of where do we go to play, those kind of choices can be worked in and that should be all processed towards making the kid more motivated.  So you don’t want the old-fashioned rigour…producing Englishmen who could control the colonial empire: …have choices built in at every stage.❞