The #1 ….. thing a teacher needs to succeed.

Number One** Not your ordinary, endless list – just what’s number 1.

                          The Freedom To Teach

There is one thing I always wish for the teachers I’ve trained and taught and shown the door into the big wide world of teaching – the freedom to not follow a script, to not teach to something but for something, the room to explore, to take the road less traveled. I know that I benefited from this kind of environment in my early years, in the newly minted uncommunist Czech Republic, I know it will work for all teachers, for all students at any place and  time. Too often though, more often the case, teachers are shackled by textbooks, programs, tests, standard curriculum and set agendas/schedules. Why can’t we have a field instead of a factory?

If I wish for anything this Teacher Appreciation week – it is for us to trust teachers and give them the freedom to teach.

You see, teaching is an art and it depends upon the freedom granted a teacher. If there is no freedom on the part of a teacher, there is no trust in the teacher. And without trust, the social contract is nil – there is no investment by any part other than to pass/fail. Learning is left in the ditch, real inquiry is but a distraction. Without trust in a teacher, we suck the life out of teaching.

A lot has been written recently about Finland and why they have such success in education. It isn’t rocket science though. It isn’t a matter of master’s degrees or small class sizes. It is all about freedom, the freedom to teach that Finnish teachers have. The trust their society gives them and has in them.

I came across this quote from a blog recently, it asks the right questions we should be asking ourselves about teaching;

How many teachers have the legal and moral authority to determine the materials their students read, watch, listen to or produce? How many take the initiative to design “curricula” based on broad but common goals? How many see change as the only constant and take calculated risks for the benefit of their charges? – Another dot in the blogsphere

She was writing about Finland and how teachers there are asked to be creative, to teach from their heart not just their head. The most achievement in the least number of hours. They are edupreneurs with the freedom to teach, with the freedom to fail. It’s that failing that counts. Here’s an nice video overview.

This freedom is the number one thing we can grant teachers, if we care about our children’s education. Our trust will pay off. Alas, especially in TESOL, there is so little of this. Seems the higher up the food chain a teacher marches, the less freedom a teacher has. Isn’t that strange? But thank god for those younger teachers given freedom, a classroom, a closed door and all that potential and possibility! Ah, I wish I could have that again ….. maybe that’s why I love doing things online, this sense of freedom and potential – things in my own hands, the teachers own hands.

Let’s hope we as a society have the guts to give teachers the space and time to be. To be edupreneurs and to speak from their hearts that beat the same sound, the same rhythm of what the future ought to be.

To end – a fav song – It’s A Matter Of Trust, Billy Joel. This goes out to all the teachers out there, struggling towards freedom on Teacher Appreciation week.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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2 Responses

  1. Ashley Tan says:

    Thank you for citing my blog entry. I hope it brought some value to your own thoughts on this thorny issue!

  2. David says:


    You’re welcome and you expressed it so very well – couldn’t for the life of me have stated it better!


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