You’ve heard the saying before: If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Well, when it comes to education, my (and so many other disenchanted teachers) experience of the mainstream, Australian, education system is that it is broken. Which begs the question: why ain’t we fixin’ it?
After 10 years of teaching in the classroom, I found myself teaching before school, teaching during morning tea, teaching during lunchtimes and teaching after school. When you tally up the hours of teaching, it didn’t leave a lot of time for all the other stuff that teachers, at the best of times, don’t have time to do. Now, I am a great teacher, that wasn’t the issue. And, I love teaching; I wanted to do everything to help my kids. So, what was the problem? The problem was, and is, that schools are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the needs of the most important thing to a school; its students.
Class sizes are too big, teachers are underpaid and undervalued, schools are underfunded, the curriculum is overloaded etc. etc. Sound familiar? It is an age-old gripe. I thought that if I stayed long enough, worked hard enough and loved my work and my students more than my sleep and sanity, something would change. I was wrong. There just isn’t the time to accommodate the needs of all students within the constraints of modern education, no matter how dedicated the teacher and how brilliant the school. Educational policies and standards call for differentiation, yet true differentiation can only occur in a one-on-one environment. Schools try to do all they can, but the resources, the people they need the most – their teachers – are exhausted with meeting the demands of their job to effectively reach each of their students. Schools are beginning to realise that they need alternative methods of effective schooling, seeking guidance beyond the walls of the classroom. These schools we work with share our culture of collaboration and our vision of success through relationships.
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
– Dead Poets Society
So, in pursuit of my world-changing vision I realised 3 things if I was really going to get my John Keating on for real (think Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society):
- I needed to get out of the system to change it.
- I needed to stop complaining, and start acting i.e. be the difference you want to see in the world
- I needed to still be a teacher, but provide an alternative that would benefit students, teachers and schools outside of the parameters of a traditional school environment.
I found myself espousing versions of this knowledge to my students, peers and family every day, yet I was not practising it on the most fundamental level.
So, I left full-time teaching and this is where my decision has led me. The founding of Master Key Mentoring has allowed me to put all my energy into creating an education system that transforms its students. It is the beginning of a long journey towards making real changes in education. I thank everyone who is part of MKM for believing in, and being part of, this journey with me.