What is really important to me in education? What do I aim for?
I guess it’s that sense of authenticity: where things come together, have that sense of being real. Here I think of the ‘jazz’ of teaching, being immersed in the moments, the journey, enjoying that sense of moving towards somewhere – a student immersed in an idea, students interacting respectfully and gracefully; where you, the teacher, also become the learner. It might sound idealistic yet these moments have had a deep impression on me – whether they be in a room of senior students or intellectually disabled students where the smallest of things becomes the realistic challenge. ‘ Jazz’ might be a corny word – a perception that this type of music is impressionistic, in the moment, without form. No. There is form, there is shape – the teacher being a subtle yet sophisticated director. What is memorable is the spirit in the room, how the fact that we are all together, at this particular time, and place, can become a celebration. We are drowning in an age of cynicism, arrogance, aggression. Surely an aim – or at least something we can celebrate when we find it – is that simple act of togetherness. It is old-fashioned, simple, yet I believe , one of the greatest forms of learning – an experience that is learning and so easily missed as it profoundly, and subtly, shifts under our focus on content.
In this image, from the Shitennoji Temple, in Osaka, Japan, I experienced some fascinating moments. No it wasn’t a militaristic or eccentric Japanese festival. Being there was very different – a sense of togetherness and celebration of youth as hundreds of young people ran into a temple, sprayed with freezing water, to collect falling amulets. Yes, perhaps strange, yet the feeling was profound , deeply normal, and great fun. A celebration of youth in all its fineness.