The catchphrase #lovingthelearning entered my vocabulary at some point in the year 2013 after being inspired to join Twitter. I think it was first used in my then GCSE class and I suppose it has come to sum up my approach to teaching. Teaching is about inspiring our students and making them to want to ‘love learning’.
When I was at school I really did ‘love the learning’. One of my favourite memories of school was the weekly creative writing task that we did with our teacher in 3rd year juniors (now Year 5). I still have the book and it’s one of my treasured possessions. Our teacher was called Mr. Gee and although he was somewhat strict he was an excellent teacher and inspired me to ‘love the learning’. I think we can all remember those inspirational teachers. Harold Gee was one. This is one such piece of writing that Mr Gee inspired me to write.
It’s hard to put your finger on what makes an inspirational teacher. It certainly isn’t to do with how good their grasp of technology is or how neat their power points are. At secondary school, I was inspired to love history by some truly inspirational teachers in our school history department such as John Shoard, Chris Seeley, John Cantrell and my Sixth Form tutor Nigel Reynolds. John Shoard has only just retired after teaching for 47 years!
I was once asked in an interview early on in my career to name one historical figure that I would bring back into the classroom. A leftfield question, I plumped for William Ewart Gladstone, probably not the most common response to such a question. However, my interest for this great British PM came from the inspirational teaching I had in Sixth Form and the enthusiasm my teacher had for the topic and how he was able to bring the past alive in the classroom. Gladstone! How we could do with such leadership from the Grand Old Man now.
These teachers didn’t teach me to only pass exams. These teachers were experts in their fields, they were enthusiastic, they were funny, engaging and had high expectations. They taught me to have a genuine interest and love of learning beyond the simple exam and this is what motivates me in my teaching career.
Loving the learning isn’t about dumbing things down or making things easy or simply having a laugh with students. Quite the opposite. Students will only genuinely love the learning if they are stretched, challenged and made to think and be curious about the wider world.
Surely that is what we all seek to do as teachers. To inspire, enthuse and help our students to love learning.
So, thank you to my own teachers who inspired me to love the learning.