Last night, there was another programme on BBC2 celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Various people reflected on the effects of this speech on their own lives. People such as Oprah Winfrey were interviewed, with her saying that it was this “dream” that enabled her to act – to believe in herself and become the success that she is today. She even went as far as saying that without this seminal speech, she wouldn’t have been able to do the things in her life that she has.
It’s good to dream. It’s good to have dreams, aspirations and hopes. Some of these dreams are realised. Other dreams help to guide us in the choices that we make and the time and effort we afford to the significant issues and people in our lives.
What is less positive is having a dream and doing nothing about it, especially when that dream is shared with like-minded folk, and when that dream is altruistic rather than merely satisfying your own interests and ego. What’s even worse is following a dream that’s detrimental and counterproductive to the needs of the people you purport to be helping.
As we said in an earlier post, we have dreams too.
We have a dream of a liberated society, where justice rather than injustice prevails and where people can see worth in all of the intelligences rather than focusing merely on the intellect. We have a dream that in order for this to happen, we need to redesign or reinvent our education system and we need to unite to do so.
Since 3Di Associates began, we’ve met so many people within education who are disillusioned and disgruntled about the way education is moving in this country and how they are being expected to work, which is completely contradictory to their educational philosophy. We really do need to unite and be positive now about acting on our dreams and not leaving them in the stratosphere of unrealised hope. (One way of doing this is to get involved in the Compass and NUT Inquiry into Education – please click on the link. http://www.compassonline.org.uk/education-inquiry/ )
There have been times in the past when we, as a profession, have adhered to reforms that we knew intuitively were detrimental to the children in our care. The introduction of the National Curriculum was always flawed, and yet we didn’t collectively voice our opinions about how unmanageable it was. The insipid Academies and Free Schools programme crept in without us truly fighting against the polarisation of state schools. Some of us predicted with absolute certainty that the Literacy Hour was going to stifle creativity of both teacher and pupil. It did, and was duly abandoned or amended. The selling off of public assets without even contemplating the possibility that there would be a population increase was obviously going to cause havoc in the future. As for synthetic phonics, the politicisation of education, the promotion of archaic forms of pedagogy, league tables, teaching to test and the fact that creativity has diminished in every way possible – well, we have said so much on these subjects that you can find within our blog.
And please, we reiterate once more on behalf of ourselves and other voices of reason. We are not in a battle against the rights and the necessity of every child to be literate and numerate. We absolutely believe that this is one of the chief guiding principles of education which contributes significantly to our dream of justice, liberty and equality. We do, however, believe that achievement and a thrill in learning is the ultimate goal, not attainment of knowledge and indeed skills that can be forgotten as soon as an examination is over, if they’re not properly embedded in a child’s mind and action.
We need to act now. We need our dreams to flourish – not for us but for the sake of our children and subsequent generations.
There’s never been in a time in history when there was such opportunity for personalised learning as there is now, and yet we shy away from it because it’s too challenging, too time-consuming and too different from the way we’ve always done thing. There’s never been such a time in history when we’ve had the freedom to learn. We’ve a wealth on new knowledge of how the brain works. We have issues both positive and negative in the 21st century that mean that we have to reconstitute what learning is about.
Yet we are not alone in dreaming. The Secretary of State for Education, who has over 50 more powers now than his immediate predecessor, has dreams too. So let’s look at his dreams that are sadly becoming a reality. The fact his dreams are so diametrically opposed to our own is an issue. The fact that he has this enormous and intimidating amount of power is also a huge issue. However, these issues aren’t insurmountable.
If there’s an overriding passion, if there’s a fundamental belief in a better way, if there’s unity in that belief with the needs and wishes of children and young people being truly considered, if we are accountable to children first, then we can succeed. Furthermore, if our dreams are virtuous, and if they are agreed and understood and wanted by the majority, then we have an obligation to act on them.
Mr Gove values education. There is little debate about that, but he has a set of values that are not necessarily in tune with the values that so many in society, let alone education, uphold.
What would have happened if all the people who listened to Martin Luther King 50 years ago had walked away and said, “Oh well, great dream but too many obstacles”?
The public started to believe in the fact that the dream could be a possibility, and we now have to do the same thing. We have to be positive, we have to unite and we have to be prepared to act. We have to look at history and see how this happened. We now have the added advantages afforded to us through social networking sites, blogs and the internet. Just imagine how many hits that 50 year old speech would have received on twitter had such things as mobile phones and computer tablets been available then.
We say once more, now is the time, but now is also the time to be positive, to be virtuous and to do something together to make sure our dream becomes a reality.