The creativity of an education system cannot surpass the creativity of its teachers.
The current dominant paradigm of education reform tries to change behaviour through top-down accountability measures, pay-related incentives and high stakes testing and appraisal. These efforts appear to be having diminishing returns, and increasing existing inequities. It risks creating a technocratic teacher identity, which reduces the teacher role to that of compliant technician, whose job is largely to implement protocols and carry out instructions.
The RSA’s work on teacher quality has championed the role of teacher as designer of learning experiences. Our new report for the World Innovation Summit in Education (WISE) argues that education systems should create deliberate platforms for innovation that are long-term-focused, equity-centred, humanising and – crucially - teacher-powered.
What would it really take to flip the system so that teachers are at the steering wheel of education reform worldwide? And how do we achieve a shift of focus from individual teacher quality to collaborative professionalism?
These are the questions guiding, ‘Building a Teacher-Powered Education System,’ an upcoming discussion hosted by the RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) on Monday, 25th of January in their London Headquarters.
The panel includes:
Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education, the Lynch School of Education, Boston College (USA)
Joe Hallgarten, Director of Creative Learning & Development, The RSA
Jelmer Evers, Teacher, Writer and Learning Innovator
Fiona Collins, Principal of Francis Street C.B.S. in Dublin
Fiona Collins is the principal of inner-city primary school Francis Street C.B.S., a position she has held for ten years. Located in the Liberties area of Dublin, the school’s ethos is based on emotional resilience and emphasizes the importance of social and emotional learning, problem solving, and teamwork.
By focusing on embracing the radical diversity of her staff and student body as a basis for empowerment, she has tackled many of the challenging realities facing both teachers and students in Ireland today. Under her leadership, the teachers and pupils of Francis St. C.B.S. have developed an empathy-based methodology programme. This collaboration has greatly enhanced the school experience for pupils, as well as encouraging greater leadership and autonomy for teachers.
Fiona has featured in the national press and television, and regularly lectures on Social Inclusion and Poverty in St. Patrick's College at Dublin City University – the largest teacher training college in Ireland. She holds a Masters in Education with a focus on Educational Disadvantage.
In 2014, Francis Street C.B.S. was selected to join the global network of Ashoka Changemaker Schools. This programme recognises schools with a proven record of, and innovative approach to, developing students as changemakers.