One of the moulds in education that we need to start talking about is the ‘great divide’ between primary secondary. Sometime between when a child is 11-13 they make the leap from primary school into secondary.
Most schools, have some sort of transition which often sees the primary kids visit their local high school for a few days prior to starting secondary school. Is that really enough?
Do we do more to support children in the middle years?
Because that distinction is one of education’s own making and one reinforce very early in a teachers career. Most teacher training courses quickly divide students up into primary and secondary teachers.
What if we just had teachers?
Of course that would involve a change in how we view learning.
Teachers in primary are expected to have a breadth of knowledge and as well as how to impart the ‘basics’ of teaching children how to read, write and, dare I say it, ‘do school.’
Secondary teachers will have a depth of knowledge in one or two specialist areas and, dare I say it, a knowledge of how to get students through external examinations.
But what if we viewed learning less in terms of individual subject silos and more like the weaving together of different areas of the academic curriculum ?
Instead of viewing teachers as there to impart bits of wisdom they could also be there to help navigate the education system. Of course this would require change. It would require teachers to have both breadth and depth of knowledge of both the curriculum and pedagogy.
Teachers in primary to start developing specialist teaching subjects at the higher level while secondary teachers will benefit from seeing how the fundamentals are taught. Like it or not, we are all teachers of reading and maths. Secondary teachers have a depth of knowledge and access to amazing facilities.
Maybe instead of having teachers drop off at the divide between secondary and primary, there could be teachers that move up with the children through at least part of the middle years with the children and then return to a lower age gap.
It baffles me, particularly in international schools, that we pass children on to different teachers year after when the children we teach are often going through a major life transitions of moving country.
For many children, not just in the international setting, school is the most stable part of their lives yet we consistently pull the carpet out from underneath them by replacing their teachers year after year.
Maybe we need to start thinking more about how to build and maintain relationships than quick fixes on the timetable.
Those silos we build up of our own making but they don’t need to be.