Friday, 28 March 2014

Resignation or Raging?

which way

At last I can own to something I've hinted at in recent posts: I've resigned my part-time teaching job… 

Currently, in England and Wales, half of all qualified teachers leave the profession in their first five years of teaching. So I'm not alone in my dissatisfaction that schooling here is interfering with education. Yet I still have a living to earn, and more: my conviction that education matters still burns bright. I have acquired a unusual collection of skills and experience that it seems wrong to simply discard. But where is the market for them from outside the classroom?

Three years ago my contribution to A Manifesto for Media Education included this paragraph:

Primary teachers and learners need a well-resourced and publicised movie making website. It would have a wide-ranging core of quick and medium length movie-making activities with: clear guidance for students, specific curricular links, built in assessment materials and illustrative videos.  Crowd-sourcing further ideas from teachers and pupils would provide activities rooted in classroom practice.

At the time I had no serious idea of actually writing the thing. But somehow, recently, ideas and opportunities have been bumping into one another and sparks have started to fly - necessity being the mother of invention. In reply to a previous post calling for feedback a friend suggested that it would be a good idea to write a book of ideas for teaching media. Our mutual friend Dave Farmer has been very successful with his book 101 Drama Games.

I have a notebook in which I write down all kinds of stuff, and one morning a few weeks ago, I manage to generate forty media-making activities without really breaking into a sweat. Maybe the time has come.

I’m fairly clear what is needed a cookbook style of easily accessed, practical ideas that:

  • should answer the needs of both formal and informal educators
  • is independent of  software developments
  • should be useable by a wide range of ages
  • should be useful despite the platform – PC/Mac/Tablet etc.
  • be easily navigated  

Both books and websites have their own problems. Books can’t show examples of media or link to example material. Websites are harder to make money from and less reliably mobile ( I live in Norfolk remember!) How about that hybrid - the ebook? The problem there is different – I know nothing about constructing interactive ebooks. Still it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man…

Bigger than technical questions for me is how to get paid for the work? The time needed to produce the thing is likely to be considerable especially as each idea needs to be illustrated by example – actually vice versa. I’m kicking myself now that I don’t have a complete archive of student work - apart from things I’ve posted on this blog. Is this to be a labour of love - meanwhile falling back into the pit of the daily grind? The other option is to pursue funding and I’m onto the most likely source already. If that fails I may consider crowd-funding. Meanwhile I’ll keep adding to my collection of recipes. If you would like a taste, click the Cookbook tab at the head of this site. You’ll find a small collection of ideas chosen to represent different types of media and recipe, as well as a project outline. And if you have few spare thousand at your disposal you can find my contact details too….

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This morning I received a questionnaire from the county council about my resignation, and in the comment space I wrote:

‘Schools should be gardens not factories. Creativity is not an add-on but core.’

So, in the end, I’m not resigned but raging.