GTC, RTU - General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland

Teaching: a Passionate
Subversive Profession?
Initial Thoughts
“Men at some times are masters
of their fates. The fault dear
Brutus, is not in our stars, but
in ourselves, that we are
Martha Nussbaum, Love’s Knowledge. New
York: O.U.P. 1998
“ In its determination to see only what
can enter into utilitarian calculations,
the economic mind is blind: blind to the
separateness of its people, to their
inner depths, their hopes and loves and
fears, blind to what it is like to live a
human life and try to endow it with
Cautionary Note 1.
“A dominant force may legitimate itself by
promoting beliefs and values congenial to
it; naturalising and universalising such
beliefs to render them self evident and
apparently inevitable, denigrating ideas
which might challenge it, excluding rival
forms of thought.”
(Eagleton 1991)
Our Work in Context
Teaching: the ultimate reality
Preparing to Teach in Secondary Schools
Edited: Brooks V. Abbot I.& Bills L. OUP 2004
• Multidimensionality: Many people / personalities
• Simultaneity: question-listen-motivate-assess
• Immediacy: momentum- pace-no downtime for
• Unpredictability: unexpected events- serendipity
• Publicness: fishbowl syndrome
• History: classes socialise into ‘norms’.
A Model of Learning
Content- Knowledge, principles,
skills and abilities
Emotional and
Spiritual Space
Dispositions to Learning –
Learning to Love Learning
A Complex Interaction
“… a public recognition that effective learning
involves, essentially an ‘interactive chemistry’
between learner and teacher, which depends
on process as much as content and is an
expression of personal values and perceptions
as much as competences and knowledge.”
Day, C. “Teachers in the twenty-first century: time to renew the
Teachers and Training: Theory and Practice,
6, 1, pp 101-115. 2000.
“ We Teach Who We Are”
Parker J Palmer
The Courage to Teach
Jossey-Bass 1998
Idealism: Moral Purpose : Mission :
Vocation: Stance
An Activist Profession
Our Collective Responsibility
To be….“active agents in the production of a new
pedagogic discourse, rather than merely the
consumers of the professional knowledge
produced by academics and educational
(Edwards & Brunton)
Staff Development
For too many teachers….staff
development is a demeaning mindnumbing experience as they passively
‘sit and get’. That staff development is
often (prescriptive) in nature….and
evaluated by ‘happiness scales’.
Sparks 2004
Tragically, however, many come with a
convincing feeling that what is inside
them is not valid because it is ‘only
personal’ to them. Somewhere along
the line, many have learnt to seek the
‘expert’ outside but deny that there may
be a potential ‘expert within’.
Dadds 1997
Vision & Mission = Antidote
Moral Visionary Profession
“…making teaching into a moral, visionary profession once more where
teachers know and care about their world as well as and as part of
their work.
It means teachers recapturing their status
and dignity as some of society’s leading
intellectuals, and not being the mere
technicians, instruments and deliverers of
other people’s agendas………..
Those who focus only on teaching techniques and curriculum
standards and who do not also engage teachers in the greater social
and moral questions of their time, promote a diminished view of
teaching and teacher professionalism that has no place in a
sophisticated knowledge society.”
Hargreaves A. Teaching in the Knowledge
GTCNI Approach
Reflective & Activist Professional 1.
• concerned with the purposes and
consequences of education, as well as what
might be called technical proficiency;
• prepared to experiment with the unfamiliar and
learn from their experiences;
• have an approach characterised by openmindedness and wholeheartedness;
Reflective & Activist Professional 2.
• committed to professional dialogue in school
and beyond;
• have working patterns characterised by a
process of action, evaluation and revision; and
• assume, as life-long learners, responsibility for
their ongoing professional development
Exemplifications of
The Council takes the view that the notion of
competences goes well beyond the simple
acquisition of skills and that, although curricular
knowledge and pedagogical skills are important,
teaching is both an intellectual and practical
activity with important emotional and creative
dimensions. Essentially, teachers, while reflecting
on and evaluating their professional context, use
acquired professional judgement to select the
most appropriate options from a repertoire of
teaching strategies, and in the process of teaching
refine and add to their professional knowledge.
Hayes,D. Opportunities and Obstacles in the Competencey-Based
Training of Primary Teachers in England. Harvard Educational
Review Vol 69 Number 1 1999
If competence (standard) statements are used
as a basis for informed discussion and reflection
upon classroom practice between tutors,
students, and classroom teachers, they will fulfil
an important function. If they are used
mechanically within an inflexible assessment
regime framework, it is likely that the preparation
of teachers…. will become miserably rigid,
unsympathetic towards the realities and rigors of
classroom life, and at worst, an impediment to
creative and innovative teaching.
Dimensions of Development 1
• greater complexity in teaching e.g. in
handling mixed-ability classes, reluctant
learners, classes marked by significant
diversity, or inter-disciplinary work;
• the deployment of a wider range of teaching
• the ability to adduce evidence of one’s
• basing teaching on a wider range of
evidence, reading and research;
Dimensions of Development 2
• extending impact beyond the classroom- fuller
participation in the life of the school;
• the capacity to exercise autonomy, to innovate, to
improvise; and
• a pronounced capacity for self-criticism and selfimprovement; the ability to impact on colleagues
through mentoring and coaching, modelling good
practice, contributing to the literature on teaching
and learning and the public discussion of
professional issues, leading staff development, all
based on the capacity to theorise about policy and
Final Thoughts
Professionals exhibit but also
inspire confidence!
• We trust in their:
– Competence
– Commitment
– Conduct
– Judgement
All Underpinned by GTCNI
Competence Document
“ Teachers with high self-esteem know how to
value both themselves and others……...
This basic sense of self-worth is internalised,
deeply imbedded, so it is not easily
susceptible to any gross distortion by life
events, however calamitous…”
Day et al 1998
Equally such teachers are better placed to resist the
pressures of the ‘old guard’, the blandishments of
political ‘short-termists’ and the stresses of the
paradox that is teaching.
Competences as a BULWARK
• Define the Mission
• Reinforce the Vision
• Bolster self confidence
• Build Communities of Practice
• Initiate & sustain the ‘conversation’
Competences offer:
• A statement of moral purpose or
• An understanding of what competence
might look like----mediated via context;
• The basis for self evaluation and whole
staff / individual development via SDP
and PRSD
Price of Failure
• “ …do their job, nothing more nothing
less, aided in this by codified rules,
timetables and lesson plans. The
restrictiveness of their (assigned) texts
and regulations serves them to adhere to
their minimalist assiduity….the sacred fire
which once lit their work gradually dies to
a smoulder.”
Hamon & Rotman

similar documents