Mr Men teaching in Toulouse
Monday 13 May 2013
We are Mr Men teachers and proud!
For any of you who are UK based, you will doubtless have followed the now infamous 'Mr Men Speech' by Michael Gove last week. For those of you who are not, follow the links - it is worth a read whatever your base or perspective. The issue hits home on a number of levels for me and us here in Toulouse. Firstly the 'Mr Man Teacher' Russell Tarr is one of my colleagues and I really want to speak out on his behalf, although I will not manage to do so as eloquently as he did himself. Secondly, I want to officially sign up as a 'Mr Man' teacher. I think this could be a cult movement in the making and I want to be a part of it, given what it stands for and its implications for teaching Mathematics.
I have worked with Russell Tarr for nearly 8 years now and he has been a thorn in my side from the start. The way he engages, enthuses and develops critical thinking in his history students has meant, for years, that all our efforts in the mathematics department can only be second best. As such, he has been an inspiration for those of us he works with (and many others around the world) to do the same for our students. Indeed he is in many ways responsible for our decision to develop our own resources to the point where they can be shared on the web. Putting your stuff out there is a big leap with a number of costs and benefits (Russell can now add to that list). Most significantly, it encourages you to think very hard about, and develop your resources fully so that they are as good as they can be. This has a huge benefit for students and our own professional development as teachers. For that inspiration and his willingness to share, help and discuss all things educational, we owe him great thanks. I sincerely hope and believe that ‘Mr Men gate’ will come down on his side in the end.
A number of us found ourselves wondering, which activities of ours do we wish Michael Gove had criticised? A number come to mind! Personally, I think he would like Dancing Vectors the best. Mathematics teaching is a critical field, fighting against years of misconception about the subject, what it is, why we learn it and what it can be for different people. Our job is hugely important and any suggestion that we are making it trivial with our attempts to engage students, indeed misses the point. Any suggestion that our efforts are aimed at anything other than raising confidence, expectation and improving a generation’s understanding of the role mathematics plays in our world is, sadly, very wide of the mark. The point is this; nothing is more inspiring or rewarding that creating opportunities that promote engagement, enquiry, enthusiasm and critical thinking. Anyone with any experience of that will know that, and those without cannot and should not be directing the future of education. As we think about posting resources to this site, this is our mantra and our goal. It may be that it doesn’t always work for all teachers or all classes (ours included) but is our goal all the same.
I am a Mr Man teacher and proud!