Forget for a moment that I am a father of two little kids. Forget I am a caring adult.
As I human being I can’t comprehend the fear that would have gone through Aylan as he realised that the breath he was trying to take would kill him.
As he drew in two lungs full of salt water, the pain and terror would be no different to the thousands of people who have drowned before him. I can’t imagine what it’s like and don’t want to. As a little kid I used to have nightmares were I was suffocating and the memory sends shivers through me – let alone the reality.
At 3 years of age, young Aylan had experienced horrific things my son has never seen and I hope will never see.
At 3 years of age, young Aylan had no idea why he was on that boat, why his family were running from Syria and where they were going.
He would have trusted his mummy, daddy and big brother.
His father, Abdullah who has survived, tells us that he floated in the water trying to hold his sons’ heads above water. “They screamed ‘Daddy please don’t die'” One at a time, as he realised they were dead, he closed his eyes and let them go”.
I have written to the Immigration Minister asking (again) that we help these refugees. The gap between refugees fleeing persecution and refugees fleeing poverty is not the point. Syrians are dying as they flee and live in sub-poverty. So are groups of people all over the world who are simply desperate for a new life.
This is not about politics.
Over 200 days ago I decided to change the way “maths happened” in our classrooms. My attention turned to an agile maths program for our year 10 cohort.
After 3 months of floundering and then 9 months of thinking/unthinking, planning/replanning and doing/undoing we have been going for 28 days. Collaborative work, creative solutions, challenging problems and CHOICE. Much of our design and intent is drawn out of the research of Professor Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck from Stanford. On the ground it was an encounter with Steve Colliss (www.happysteve.com) that got the whole part of my vision into shape. I went “public” in August 2014 . We have Bloom and Gardner to support engagement , choice and task complexity. Students ARE covering core and extension work, whilst enjoying it.
The buzz I really feel now is that my algebra, calculus, matrix, complex number and trig classes (in year 11 and 12) are different because I’ve been rewired. I can’t help myself. The syllabus still kills me as I struggle to find any time to explore, play and experience the maths. But choice is possible. In fact, choice is necessary.
I have known this for a long time but done nothing about it.
I made a terrible mistake tonight.
All set to go to bed, I thought I would just check my twitter feed. Long story cut short, I started to read a blog from one the regular contributors to my feed (Tom Sherrington) and he mentioned something that resonated. In his blog headguruteacher.com/2014/11/15/lesson-observations-unchained-a-new-dawn he talks about a lot of different things, but his comment about changing emphasis really lifted me up. The substance of this blog is how different things seem when you release the shackles.
No doubt you will recall the image below from “The Truman Show”. Truman encountered what he could only understand as “the edge of reality” but with a bit of persistence he finds a door into a new reality. I don’t know about you, but that scene remains one of the most powerful scenes of any movie I have enjoyed.
Anyway, headguruteacher Tom Sherrington talks in terms of the powerful partnership between leaders and teachers, and his challenge to unshackle teachers, allowing then to experience real collegial support and leadership. His challenge at his school in the UK is to work alongside his teachers to help them develop. That makes sense. We are lucky at prince of PoP and in Australia, that we don’t have a strong culture of “teacher measurement”. At least one less shackle to break.
Anyway, I think the same can be said for good teachers (and teaching), and working alongside students. We are there to help them develop. In year 10 we have opened a door that sits at the edge of “normal” teaching, at least for maths. It feels like we have been unshackled. I have never felt so “close” to what students need than I am at present. I think we have walked through a door that puts us in a place that is maybe more “real” than we first realised.
I know this year 10 journey sometimes leaves me feeling vulnerable and occasionally exposed. I know I am still getting used to the images, stimulus and challenges that lie beyond the open door, but I am certain good things lie ahead for us.
….and all I wanted to do was to explain why I put this image over my desk……