During the holidays I had the opportunity to go to a concert. My husband came across the group “Post Modern Jukebox” quite accidently and decided to buy
tickets to see them in Wollongong. This band takes modern songs and “jazzifies” them. (I think I created a new word here but I think you will get the
gist.) I had seen a couple of Youtube videos of their work and if you like jazz then I think you will be impressed.
There were two things that really struck me about this group and that was the joy that this group emanated from the stage and secondly,
they were brilliant at what they were doing, i.e. singing, dancing, playing and “all that jazz”.
It made me think about our roles as teachers. We should find joy in what we do every day in our profession. I love teaching, I love learning
and I love seeing students grow and mature each day in their learning. I also believe we should be brilliant in what we do not so
that people can say how good we are; we should aim to be brilliant at teaching for the sake of the students in our care.
“Experience the joy of developing mastery in our craft." Simon Breakspear
Now I don’t mean that we should be entertainers in our jobs – far be it from that. I think we need to understand the science and art of our craft and make
sure that we are improving our own teaching. I for one have grown in my own understanding and development as an educator, particularly in the last
6 years. I don’t think there will ever be a time when I have finished learning in the teaching profession as we are always capable of learning new
things and responding in ways to improve ourselves. We should, in our craft of teaching, be making a difference for every child and every year group.
We should be gaining consistently great outcomes for all students if we do our roles brilliantly.
I came across an interesting article on Education Next recently called The Best Way to Help Children Remember Things? Not “Memorable Experiences. The article talks about the development of memory and distinguishes between episodic memory and semantic memory. I have quoted an excerpt from this article
“Episodic memory is the memory of the ‘episodes’ of our life—our autobiographical memory. This takes no effort on our part, it simply happens. We don’t have to try consciously to remember what happened yesterday. Those memories just happen automatically. But there is a downside. Episodic memory is “easy come, easy go.” If you try to remember what you had for lunch yesterday, you will probably remember. If you try to remember what you had for lunch a year ago today—unless that happened to be some very significant date and some particularly noteworthy lunch—you will have no idea.
Semantic memory, on the other hand, involves much harder work. We have to expend effort to create semantic memories. This is the kind of memory we use when we consciously study something because we want to remember it. Unlike episodic memory, it does not just happen. The upside, however, is that the effort involved results in long lasting memory.
Have you ever been in a course where you have really enjoyed listening to the speaker, found the subject matter interesting and the presenter amusing and engaging. Yet when you try to explain to someone the next day what the course was about, all that is really left is a vague impression of your emotions during the day, tinged with the odd snippet of content? You know the course was really good yet can’t really explain what it was actually about beyond the most general of assertions. That’s because at that point your memories are mainly episodic and are already fading. This is particularly likely to have happened if you just listened to the speaker rather than making some notes, and if you didn’t have to do activities during the day that made you think hard about the content. But even if you did, unless you reread those notes sometime later, or read the PowerPoint, or the blogs they mentioned, or plan a staff meeting to tell others about what you have learned, unless you expend some effort in revisiting the message, however inspiring you found the message at the time, your memory of actual specifics will quickly fade away—leaving you with at best fond memories of an enjoyable and interesting day."
I think this argument is pertinent to how we teach. I believe we need to combine the two versions described above. We do need to inspire our students in
their learning, to hook them in and help them to develop that sense of wonder and awe about the world that we live in. We do need to provide them with
interesting and valuable learning experiences AND we need to teach in such a way that they retain the information. We need to provide our students
with many opportunities to retain the information that we give them, moving what is sitting in their working memory into the area of long term memory.
I hope that we all retain that great sense of joy in teaching and that we all work on our craft so that we do it brilliantly.