A ‘launch’ at last
Despite registering the TFTW blog in October and the several months of occasional @TeachFight twitter activity since then, it seems appropriate that I get round to writing an actual introduction to the project at the beginning of 2012.
My full time job at the moment is teaching. In education, to launch a project only 3 months after conception would be impressive. There are many ‘problems’ to be solved, many ideas of how to address them, but essentially no available time to prepare and roll out the brilliant new policy, carefully designed structure, or reinvigorated pedagogy.
However, my school is old and crumbly and over the Christmas holiday a pipe buried deep within the building burst, flooding the stairwell and rendering the main school inaccessible. So, after teaching the first two lessons of the new year on Tuesday, the students were sent home and I gained three precious days. Having ploughed through a mountainous amount of admin, planning and organisation (schools are so much more productive without kids!) I cracked open a bottle of red over dinner, and the next thing I know I’m writing this blog – at last.
Education and defence
As a teacher (UK: English, French) and reserve soldier I follow education and defence – as @TeachFight I explore a fusion of these domains. The TFTW blog is designed to help formalise, record, share and develop my thoughts on defence and education.
The plan is that when I think in one area, I compare the other and see if anything original emerges. What principles can be transferred from one sector to the other? What ideas or approaches could open doors elsewhere? What experiences can suggest situations to avoid or opportunities to embrace? What can be learned from asymmetrical warfare to benefit the imbalance of a supply teacher newly arrived in a hostile classroom? How can the practice of restorative justice in schools model how to de-escalate aggression and address feelings of injustice in counter insurgency situations?
I have no planned direction for the blog, but mean to meander along as and when I have time to. After thinking about potential comparisons for some time now (if not yet managing to write about them) I am starting to think of interesting links all over the place.
Take my three month delay in starting to write this blog, for example. Time management is an interesting one.
I may claim I have very little time to execute ideas beyond basic teaching requirements at school as it is a very busy existence (borderline chaos). Everybody knows that time management is central to the working of schools, in the form of timetables. Yet there is a widespread perception that teachers are lazy or have it easy – after all with all that holiday and finishing work at 3.30 who could complain? (Thanks for keeping the myth alive, Daily Fail, and thanks also to you, Jim Smith, for infuriatingly and illogically branding your model of excellent classroom practice as lazy teaching!) Perhaps teachers don’t know how to manage their time efficiently; perhaps they really do simply have too much on their plate. How would the military get it done?
I doubt you need first hand military experience to appreciate the importance of getting things done quickly in the military, whether at the micro level (parade timings are to be adhered to five minutes early) or the macro (consider the ‘supersonic speed with which diplomatic process moved towards UN resolution 1973′). However, the military can also be painfully slow at some things; MOD procurement springs to mind.
On the topic of procurement, the discussion at RUSI’s land warfare conference 2011 (‘The Army has never had a proper Equipment Programme: requirements have been unclear; Urgent Operational Requirements have skewed plans; and relationships with industry underdeveloped’) now makes me think of Michelle Rhee’s approach to wasteful and ineffective procurement and distribution of teaching and learning resources for the public school’s of Washington D.C. as explored in the excellent 2010 documentary film, Waiting for Superman.
Despite having half-drafted several ideas considering issues regarding time management in teaching/fighting at 3.26am (or 0326Z?), and a load more flowing from the procurement side I must accept that – red wine having done its job – I don’t have time to write them all up, get a bit of sleep, and get up at 6 for a pleasant, student-free day in school tomorrow. I hope I have made a point though about the potential for interesting comparisons between two very different sectors.
Follow @TeachFight on Twitter to join in the day to day discussion. Comment below or message me with your responses or recommended reading.
Look out for the next blog, on trawling the net for existing discussion of the link between teaching and fighting.