News and views from PPTA president Angela Roberts.
Includes the PPTA News viewpoint and his responses to various education issues raised in the media.
(Angela began her presidency mid January 2013)
Life under the big top (teaching, circuses, and influence)
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 December 2015 04:17
PPTA president Angela Roberts considers the pros and cons of being inside - or outside - 'the tent'.
Classrooms, circus rings, teachers and trapeze artists
Some would argue that on the best days our classrooms can, and should, resemble a circus ring and teachers are, when at our most inspiring, a little bit clown, a smattering of lion tamer and a chunk of trapeze artist. How do we decide, as a union, when we are "in the tent" and when we are out? When do we join the circus and when do we sit outside and leave the ringmaster to it? It can be a difficult call, given that there are obvious pros and cons to each position.
Bearing witness inside the tent and putting on a good show
There are two reasons why you might want to be in the tent. Firstly, to bear witness; to keep an eye on how the ringmaster is managing the show, to see what the clowns are up to or to seek inspiration from the acrobatics on the trapeze.
The other, more obvious, reason is to influence what the ringmaster puts on the programme, to make sure that the show is a good one; that the circus is one that the clowns want to perform in and the punters will want to come and see.
Possibility of influencing decisions inside the tent
This is usually the crucial question: can we influence the ringmaster? Often this is not a simple yes or no. Rather, in the end, it comes down to where we sit on a "continuum of influence". If the ringmaster’s decisions are bound up in shonky legislation (like EDUCANZ, for example) it doesn’t matter what opinion we take to the table, there are some acts that cannot be removed from the programme — no matter how painful they are to watch. There is no point in being in the tent if the programme is set, if there is no real ability to impact on the decisions being made. All you are doing by remaining in the tent when you have no real say and no power to truly challenge and shape what is happening, is giving credibility to the choices that the ringmaster makes.