“You say I’m a dreamer, we’re two of a kind
Both of us searching for some perfect world we know we’ll never find”
Hold Me Now
The Thompson Twins
I constantly try to believe the best in people. I believe the best in children. I believe that children actually want to do the right thing most of the time and that if we teach them and guide them then actually in most cases they will choose to do the right thing without us forcing them. Most of the children in our school make the right choices most of the time. They are kind, compassionate and thoughtful. They look after and support each other, they choose to do the right things. I’ve been called ‘naive’ for this view by a high-profile tweeter. Actually I am anything but naive, 23 years teaching and working in inner-city schools makes you anything but. What I am however I’ll admit is a bit of a dreamer, I’m an optimist, I genuinely believe that we can make the world a better place. I believe that education can change the world, I also believe that education is about much more that passing some exams. The purpose of our education system must be about giving our young people the opportunities to dream. Creating Literate and Numerate pupils is vital but to truly motivate our pupils the vision has to be bigger.
To be honest being based in the North-East I sadly see education as not really being the doorway it should be for our young people. As the father of a 17 year old battling for jobs, dreaming of a career in a field where sadly privilege does often make a difference, where who you know is often more important than what you know I find my optimism dented. Never once however does it stop him, he works even harder to push for that dream. He is an inspiration. After getting nine GCSE’s (including maths and three sciences because he was given no choice) he is doing Musical Theatre. Nobody at any point spoke to him about his dreams, his aspirations and even if they had there were no options for him in what he was offered. His one career talk essentially did two things it talked about earning lots of money and about being an engineer. We seem to be driving to an increasingly narrow view of education, one where our school data is more important than actually supporting pupils in achieving their dreams and aspirations.
As education seems to narrow so too has politics with little between the offers of the parties. This general election for the first time in a long time seemed to offer options, real choices. Since the general election, on twitter, I have seen and read a number of tweets criticising young people for the voting choice they made they too were being called ‘naive’. How many of those tweeters have actually spoken to those young people and asked why they voted the way they did.
Having carried out an election in school it was fascinating to listen to children’s reasons for voting.
In our School (119 pupils voted) the Results were as follows
The children spoke a language of tolerance, of a caring supportive society where no one was left behind. That’s what they wanted to see.
Equally sat ear-wigging to my son talking to his friends (most of whom could vote) discussing a vision of a better Britain without the cynicism that age brings was refreshing. To be fair they knew a lot more about the parties policies than I did. To hear them fired up by politics was equally fantastic. For many their vote wasn’t about them, it was about a creating a fairer society, the exact society we try to create in our school. They weren’t just concerned about them it was bigger than that.
Now they may have been idealistic when they voted, but tell me is that really a bad thing? Or is it worse that we actually have lost that ability to believe in a better world.
So here’s to the dreamers…
“You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us & the world will be as one”