Teaching teachers to teach children how to learn and increase confidence together.

You will have to recognise that no country has had to deal this problem before, and that there is very little value in depending on past practice that has left millions of our youngsters, more millions in other countries, utterly unable to help themselves. Provide me with support and a video studio and I can make a series of short programmes explaining to all those millions how to learn for life. US Professor Shaughnessy, once titled his interview with me: ‘ A prophet ignored in his own a land’, having discovered, from the Upton Sinclair award above, that my approach has been taught to student mathematics teachers in the University of Mercer in Georgia for the nearly twenty years, and they are now proving amongst the longest tenured school teachers in the United States. “You remember what you’ve been telling us,” the eleven-year-old told me one day, or rather whispered, after asking to speak to me alone. A little nervously, I agreed that he could. “about reading aloud; then asking ourselves, ‘What does this mean?’” I admitted that I did. “Well,” his voice now trembled, as he was imparting the secret of World Peace, as, indeed, it might be, “I’ve discovered, it works with other subjects!” * “You taught me how to learn for just one year, but I honestly think it was the most influential and formative teaching experience I ever had. You were the first – and possibly only, actually – teacher to make me feel like it was totally fine not to understand something, and in fact to treat it more as your failing than mine if I didn’t. I remember one time I was trying to explain (completely unselfconsciously) something mathematical I didn’t understand, and you were trying to explain it to me – and eventually you said ‘It’s extraordinary. It’s like there’s a glass wall between us and I can see you but can’t get through to you.’ What was really extraordinary, though, was that because of the ethos you’d built in class, your kind, thoughtful, un-patronising manner, it didn’t even occur to me to take offence. Usually inclined to beat myself up for ‘not getting’ things, my level of trust in you was such that I just treated it as interesting, rather than something to worry about. I wish more teachers were like you. Josie. * Towards the end of my final year, the classroom door opened during a lesson, and two tall young men stood there. The darker of the two wore black, with a gold chain at the neck. The taller, dressed less dramatically, was a blond colossus. I had known them as boys. “Come back in twenty minutes, lads”, I told them, and they left. They were back in twenty minutes and I invited them to address the class: starting with their names. “Right” began the dark one. “My name is William Anastasiadis. I’ll spell that for you: “A- N-A-S-T-A-S-I-A-D-I-S!” The class sat as if petrified. “And this,” he turned to point at me, “is the best teacher we ever had.” His silent companion nodded solemnly. Then they left. * “Keep writing to us, Mr H. The life, the strength, the harshness, the hope and the fear all comes through.” Antonella. * “Your words always provoke thought to the point where one could almost reach for painkillers. You are far too clever. You really do have superhuman intelligence.” Julie *“Throughout my life I was always the new kid, the bad kid, or in some cases, the dumb kid. But in a few people’s eyes, I was just a kid that needed a bit of extra support. Your efforts and kind nature had a great impact on me at a young age and, while I never did become any good at mathematics, it is deeply appreciated.” Romain. * When I returned some weeks later to collect my precious bottle of Phlogiston from the classroom cupboard, I found that some of the juniors, judged by their writing, had left their reward on the patch of exposed plaster beside my old classroom door. Mr Hannaford Walking Dictionary of Kindness. * ‘Paulo Freire wrote: “Education will not change the world; it will change the people who will change the world”. We teachers have the power to change the world because we change lives. The wonderful experience you had is exceptional because only a few have the privilege. You decided to change your life from soldier to teacher. Among all possibilities you chose the most difficult and also the one that would allow you to help change the world in a real way. Why did you choose to be a teacher? Did you choose it or were you chosen? I began my journey through in the field of education at the age of 17 and I have always heard “we must train critical and reflective, supportive, intelligent citizens” but you were the only one who told me HOW to do it and also from the discipline that has always meant discrimination and individualism. It is extraordinary! How many students have you had? How many lives have you changed? You have taught them to think and live together, to be better people and better citizens and this implies that they did not only improve themselves but also their closer contexts. You taught them to be better human beings through conscious, deliberate and individual evolution. You did not just change your students’ lives; you have continued changing lives because you cared about writing and spreading your ideas. Only this year there are 130 new teachers who know how maths must be worked to train better citizens because of YOU, even if they have never heard or seen you, you taught them how to change the world. Each of those 130 people will teach hundreds of children throughout their lives; do you realise the multiplier effect? You have no idea how much we all owe you. Professor V.A.Q. Batallanos, U. Malaga, Espagne.

 

 

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