A teacher, now long retired, but whom I still greatly admire once told me that the best lesson he had ever seen was conducted on a beach. The teacher in question had no resources, illustrating all his points by sketching in the sand.

This is a poignant reminder of the fact that good lessons don't need to be fancy - they really don't. There is a lot to be said for paring things down to the bare essentials from time to time. For keeping things simple.

I don't care what inspectors, consultants, the twitterati or associated-hangers-on say. You really don't need to be flashy to deliver an excellent lesson. In fact, I would go as far to say that if you can't teach a decent lesson, from time to time, without needing to rely on the latest gadgets and -isms then you probably don't cut the mustard as a teacher.

Don't get me wrong - I am a huge enthusiast for all that the latest technology offers, and I recognise the importance of engaging with the movers-and-shakers in education (both to accept and repudiate). But when it comes down to it being the best-read, most 'right-on' member of the teaching profession counts for nothing if you forget what underpins it all. To remind yourself of that, I recommend teaching the equivalent of the lesson in the sand: just you, the pupils and your skill as a teacher to pull the lesson off.

You'll find it a cathartic experience, much as people have found simplifying their lives cathartic. The focus will be on content not gloss, or busy work, or any of the other meretricious afflictions of the modern classroom. And when you return to the comfort of your gadgets and the internet the next lesson it will really make you think: 'Does this add anything?'

Keep things simple in 2014. Really simple.

comments powered by Disqus