Monday, 4 May 2015

A Teacher is a Teacher is a Teacher

A couple of weeks ago I went along to the Character v Knowledge debate in East London and, although I enjoyed listening to the speakers, I was irked. Let me tell you why, but first a bit of background.

Helping Hands sculpture, Three Mills Green.

As a Clinical Tutor I am responsible for the clinical education of future osteopaths graduating from my School and I happen to think that they are pretty good at what they do when they leave us. Privately, of course, I may well consider that our offering is the best preparation for practice life but there are other schools/courses and all who graduate from them are called osteopaths and they are all my professional colleagues. Regardless of the route they take, even within my School there are three different pathways, at the point of graduation they become members of my profession and colleagues to be respected. The diversity of approaches and practice that emerges is to be celebrated and creates a rich and rewarding community rather than a bland, homogeneous gloop.

Osteopathic training is subject to rigorous QA, both internally and externally, and any institution that doesn't meet this exacting standard has to address its issues or face closure. This assures all that standards are maintained and confidence in the profession is high. Training, however, is only the start of the journey.In order to maintain registered status there is an element of compulsory CPD on an annual basis, so the learning continues, and the first six months in practice is probably the steepest learning curve of all.
So, what irked me and continues to irk me weeks later? It was a comment from the floor, regretfully from a Teach Firster, that appeared to question the capacity of individual teachers arriving in the profession from other routes. What concerned me was not the question of QA of the various pathways. There does need to be an exacting standard to provide confidence and any provider should meet it or face the consequences. No, what really worried me was the lack of professionalism; a teacher is a teacher is a teacher, no matter which path they have followed, and deserves the respect of their peers rather than criticism based on personal perception. Regardless of their starting point they have earned the title and their learning journey is only just beginning. I would like to think that this was a rare occurrence and perhaps I misinterpreted the intention but some of the interactions I've witnessed on social media might suggest otherwise.

If teaching and teachers want to be considered as professionals then you all need to behave professionally. This includes respecting your colleagues, working together and celebrating diversity rather than judging each other on the basis of a chosen route into the role. Until this happens and you look forward rather than back you risk missing out on the opportunities to grow your own rich and rewarding community.

Rant over, tin hat on.