As my regular readers will have noticed, I haven’t blogged for a while. Partly this is because my mother died in the summer and I just couldn’t face putting this fact into writing for the world to read about. I felt bereft. I felt that my reason for living in the UK no longer existed. I felt purposeless. Dealing with grief has been so hard to bear, and I’m still not sure I know what I want to do next. Initially I said to people that I would attend the London Search Associates job fair, but as time has ticked on I haven’t registered for it and now I think it’s probably too late. I think my procrastination has been telling me something: maybe I don’t want another full-time job in an overseas school at this point. The big question is what do I want to do?
In September I started to do some supply work in a local school. I was covering for the deputy head of the school who had been seconded to another school for a time as the headteacher. This gave me a deep insight into what is going on in UK schools from a very practical perspective. I would say that my big takeaway from this is that schools in the UK are not training students for the future – the skills being taught are generally low-level thinking skills, and there’s not a lot of critical or creative thinking. Students are taught the things necessary for them to do well on the SATS tests at the end of each key stage and these things, by their nature, are things that can be tested (creativity, communication, caring, inquiry and so on clearly are not tested because they cannot be). Our children are coming to see that what is valuable is being able to remember and regurgitate. This experience left me feeling very sad.
On the other hand I’ve done a lot of workshops, school visits and consultancies for the International Baccalaureate. In fact I could characterise the last few months as simply living out of a suitcase. This year my travel schedule has looked like this:
Warsaw -> Doha -> Dubai -> Dartford -> Dublin -> Johannesburg -> Durban -> St Petersburg -> Madrid -> Lusaka -> Livingstone -> Egham -> Riyadh -> Doha (again) -> Maastricht -> Vienna -> Dammam -> Abu Dhabi -> The Hague -> Doha (again) -> Beirut -> Copenhagen and Helsingborg -> Hannover -> Vienna (again).