I came across a twitter ‘live chat’ run by #UkEdChat and hosted by @informed_edu on the theme of The Royal College of Teaching. Having read through the archive I’m now indulging in some longer sentences to clarify my thinking.
The idea that a Royal College could bring greater respect and recognition for the profession, as well as protection from ill-informed political interference, would seem like a pretty uncontroversial premise upon which to build it. But working out how to achieve this in practice is already provoking wide and sometimes heated debate.
One of the tweets that caught my eye was from @mberry who suggested that the concept of ‘collegiality’ could be a useful one where we might find ‘the authority of a master craftsman rather than a leader’s power’.
Whether we are teachers, senior managers, inspectors or teacher trainers we all have responsibility to guide and lead. So perhaps the duty of a Royal College could be to set the standard for us by modelling the kind of leadership that Ken Robinson identifies in his televised TED talk this week where ‘command and control’ is substituted by ‘climate control’.
The College could demonstrate the difference between authoritative leadership and authoritarian leadership. The former setting clear bounds within which creative, intellectual and innovative development could happen, and the latter limiting possibilities by building a culture of fear and resentment (of which we have plenty if the #ukedchat twitter stream is anything to go by).
It’s suggested by one of the contributors to the RCoT introductory booklet, that teachers should not get automatic entry as they did with the GTC but that instead “more experienced/accomplished teachers would be able to undergo ‘rigorous selection processes’ to gain the approval of the college through a tiered structure of memberships and fellowships.”
I would suggest that the College ought instead to operate a more inclusive approach to membership in the same way that any good non-selective state school would do. It should welcome all those who’d like to belong and then work hard to build its own ‘climate of possibility’ where members are inspired to work within clearly defined values, high expectations and rigorous professional standards.