What educators can learn from Australia, Spain and Japan
If I could point to one basic idea that I would bring back to the UK from overseas it would be what I call creative teaching, rather than that awful corporate-speak word ‘innovation.’ The British secondary school system simply demands to much focus on students regurgitating information in exams as proof of their supposed knowledge.
In Australia, where I was blooded as a teacher during my first four years, educators were encouraged to take risks with their teaching methods, whether this was bringing in sometimes slightly unpredictable guest speakers into the classroom or just simply reading poetry outside in the sunshine.
Also, one or two states in Australia have not relied so heavily on exams and testing to assess students’ knowledge and abilities. This has given teachers better room to maneuver through the content and lets students produce work not purely for regurgitation in an exam.
In Spain where I’ve lived for over a decade now, it’s uplifting to see how older kids treat and care for younger ones, and this is done naturally and informally, not with prefects or head boys or head girls. Job conditions for teachers in public schools are still relatively good (though certainly getting worse overall) and security of position is stronger than the temporary contracts that newer teachers across the world are having to live with.The quality of school food in Spain is generally good here, and Britain can learn from the health benefits of this.
It’s easy to say that we should take personal and collective responsibility for our schools, but in Japan you will see teachers and students every afternoon, side by side, mopping and sweeping the corridors, classrooms and toilets. Admittedly, the low level of attention often paid to this ritual meant that the school was more spiritually clean than physically clean but there is a lot to be said for ‘doing the dirty work’ together. For one thing, it helps young people see consequences when they are unclean because they and their friends are the ones who have to deal with mess that they themselves created, not some silent cleaner they may not even see.
English teacher of adults (in company) and young people with over 18 years experience in 4 countries (including Spain.)