Friday, 9 May 2014

What am I?

whatamiNot a lot of media-making has been happening at Brook Towers lately - so not much to blog about. Quite a lot of making sense has been happening however, since finally ditching the Teacher tee-shirt I’ve been wearing for nearly four decades. I’m on a business planning course which resumes next week. I came away from the last session knowing that what I needed was to be much clearer about  my product and  market. The product is me – that’s easy to say but tricky to market.        
So what am I now?
oincI’m really pretty good at lots of things: graphics, film-making, presenting, talking, having ideas, singing, making silly noises, getting on with people… I’ve been aware throughout my teaching career of being an oval peg in a round hole – there were bits of the job I barely touched. Until recently I’ve survived on the things I do well. But teaching has become squarer, and, since freelancing back in the mid-noughties, I’ve become more oval.
Learning designer
So I set about mentally removing all the things that that I did badly as a teacher, just to see what was left. Then, loading the dishwasher after breakfast the other day, these two words came into my mind. I put the job title to my wife.
“Is there such a job as a Learning Designer?” she asked.
So a-googling I went and yep, sure enough, there are indeed Learning Designers out there in the real world.

Actually, of course, all teachers are learning designers, but that aspect of the job has been squeezed very hard by other expectations. When I first started teaching, it was a matter of some pride to never plan the same topic twice, and massive thematic displays were the order of the day. My first Head, the late Jim Embling OBE’s main response to plans was “Where are you taking them this half term?”. Visits were assumed to be an integral part of their learning – not an end-of-year treat. Planning and creating exciting environments for learning was our biggest job besides the chalkface itself.  Of course there were inconsistencies and, occasionally, rather skewed time management but, for me, it was an delightful way to be…

Pretty near the top of my Learning Designer search came Patrick Dunn’s excellent, if slightly elderly, site. I can thoroughly recommend his Creative Learning Designers Defence Kit. He mentioned the Keirsey temperament sorter at one point, because he had found that there were no consistent temperament patterns for learning designers – unlike designers in other spheres. So I clicked the link and found a questionnaire. Being (like most people I suspect) a bit of a sucker for those magazine quizzes that tell you what you’re like, I took the test. The result gives you a mini-report on your temperament. I was so astonished by its accuracy that I actually paid real money for a career temperament report. If you’re interested I’m an ENFP – an Idealist Champion. One of the more typical profiles for a designer apparently.
Now, who wants to hire a Learning Designer?