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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A love for learning.

On my way back this morning from our big course in Sidcup I started thinking jobs where a person could see the finished result. There was a gang of five men laying tarmac. One of the men was obviously the driver but the other men were checking and measuring and working together in a highly professional manner. At the end of the day, when they get into their cars and drive past the fresh, clean tarmac they have just laid, they can say, “I did that. I am pleased with my work.” The men know that thousands of cars will be driving over their work every day.

I should imagine the team who prepare cakes for birthday parties must feel the same sort of pride in their work. The customer comes in, orders a cake, specifies the shape, colour, decoration and working and then pays. The member of the team who actually finishes off the cake and applies the final blob of colour must be able to step back and think: “I did that. I am pleased with my work.”

The barrister who wins a case against HM Revenue and Customs must feel an equal sense of pride. There will have been lots of preparation, discussion, arguments, and deliberation. The verdict is delivered. The case makes legal history. The barrister can drive home and think: “I did that. I am pleased with my work.”

The teachers have achieved the wonderful `A’ level results will be able to say: “I did that. I am pleased with my work.” Yesterday evening I spoke to a wonderfully effervescent girl from Newstead Wood School in Kent. This is a school that is always in the top ten in the country. She has just completed her Lower Sixth Year with five `A’ subjects with four `A’ grades and a `B’. She has one year left to go at school. She described some of her teachers.

English – a wonderful teacher with three degrees. She is so kind to us but pushes us very hard to read and think about what we are reading.

Civics – an amazing teacher who thinks in quotes. He keeps firing quotes at us and expects us to read every thing he talks about. He makes me want to learn and read and study.

She went on to say that she loves her school and has never felt that she has had a bad lesson from a teacher. She felt that all her teachers were very well qualified and that the teachers were interested in their subjects – and in the girls they taught.

So I wonder if these teachers think that the finished result is the number of `A’ levels their girls get or if it is the number of girls they help to get into Oxford and Cambridge. I like to think they are more concerned that they have contributed towards instilling and building a love for learning.

A love for learning seems to mean that the finished article is not the smooth road or the tasty cake. It is not beating HM Customs and Revenue and making legal history. A love for learning seems to mean that learning goes on for a life time.

If our eleven plus children gain a little glimpse of a love for learning then as teachers we can feel that we have done out bit.

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