Letter from the Chair – November 2017
Dear members, colleagues, and friends,
Here we go with a complete change of season! Outside my office window there are leaves of gold, green and brown sparkling in the sunshine and red squirrels dashing along the tree limbs in search of their hibernation store, I wish you could see them.
Whether you’re in the northern hemisphere autumn or the southern hemisphere spring, it’s all change as nature adapts to different temperatures and weather patterns. But what has this to do with teachers? They also need to adapt! They need to adapt to their students, different groups have different dynamics, different individuals have different needs and whilst we now understand that the notion of ‘learning styles’ is a mythological construct, it’s surely true that all our students have different requirements of us as teachers. After all, when we are with friends we adapt a little to what they need from us as we do when we are with different family members.
We are not always the same person, we change, we adapt and we are flexible. But how much should we change to meet our students?
How flexible should we be; indeed can we be? Isn’t it the case that students also need to adapt to different teachers, diverse teaching styles which vary with the subject matter as well as the character and experience of their teachers?
So who has the ultimate responsibility for encouraging this meeting of minds? As the responsible adults in this relationship, I suggest that it is we who have the duty to ensure that students are properly catered for in terms of age, aptitude, cognitive style, motivation and personality and in so doing we manage to adapt to their specific and general needs.
I well recall teachers from my youth who understood this, and then, the several who didn’t. This latter grouping were teachers from whom I learned very little and ended up hating the subject matter. The former group comprised teachers who knew that affectivity is essential if young people are going to learn and those teachers went out of their way to create a safe context in which learning would be fostered. I am still in touch with two of those 50 years later, by the way… So we must be ready to change seasons not 4 times a year but perhaps 4 times a day (some might say, 4 times an hour!) as we encounter different groups and all the individuals in them. I’m tempted to stretch the analogy further to include British weather but I fear it might collapse under the strain! Let’s just leave it there and wish you a very happy spring or autumn leading to a wonderful summer or winter, depending on which side of the equator you are!
Happy teaching and learning!
Chair of Gallery Teachers Membership Committee.