by Huw Lloyd
As we enter week two, or even three for some of us, of home educating our children in these strange times we are living in, one thing that has helped many parents is the wealth of celebrities who have been offering educational experiences for everyone to access.
Be it a Joe Wicks work out, a David Walliams story time, Carol Vorderman’s maths lessons or even Myleene Klass’ music lessons for children at home, they have all been greatly received by parents who have been looking for ways to engage their children in learning now the schools have had to close their doors. In fact parents can plan a day timetabled around different celebrity lessons if they so wish, but what impact can these lessons have on our young people?
It all depends on how we look at these lessons and what we want our young people to be doing during this time, do we want them following a full and balanced curriculum provided by and in some instances taught by qualified teachers, and if so, is this realistic? Or do we want our young people to have this time to learn differently, have new experiences and develop new skills through listening to and learning from people with real life experiences of what they are talking about it?
Geoff Barton the General Secretary of teaching union ASCL has said: “It is great that celebrities and others want to do their bit in this national emergency and are providing additional learning resources which may appeal to young people. However, without wishing to sound like killjoys, we would emphasise that the priority must be to follow the schemes of work provided by schools. Many teachers are now working diligently from home providing excellent learning support for their students to keep them on track and minimise disruption to their education.”
I am not sure if the final part of Mr Barton’s statement is possible, how can we minimise the disruption to learning where the vast majority of pupils are not attending school, where in a class of 30, 28 may be being educated by parents in 28 very different ways at home, however I do recognise his point on work set by schools should come first. But if that is done in conjunction with input from an online celebrity session then why not?
When we observe learning and teaching in schools, either as a leader, peer or learner we yearn for an inspirational teacher, someone who sparks a moment of joy as we learn, someone who can share their passion for their subject and someone who will live long in our memory. With the upmost respect to all PE teachers, I doubt them running a daily online workout would draw over two million views a day and have the nation talking as it is about this. Joe Wicks has inspired people to work out each morning and David Walliams has families tuning in together to sit and listen to his stories. Is this not the inspiration we crave in teaching?
The question for teaching and education now is how to piggy-back on the back of these celebrity lessons, how to take it on, how to feed on the inspiration they have delivered and grow it from there when schools return whenever that may be. Let’s not look at the celebrity lesson as something to replace good classroom teaching or as an enemy of it, or the work and resources which are being provided by schools, but as something to complement what teachers we are doing.
Can they be carried on when children return to schools? Can we find new and inspiring ways to engage children in education and learning through technology and inspirational figures and build on the developments the current situation has provided?