As a geographer by background, I am always intrigued to see where the readers of this blog come from? Overwhelmingly, as might be expected for a parochial blog of this nature, the readers come from the United Kingdom. However, views from Kazakhstan have now topped the 100 mark over the past twelve months, making it the third ranked country by number of views of this blog: Thailand is ranked fourth during the same period, with the USA in second places, as might be expected. The People’s Republic of China notched up one visit the day after I commented that I hadn’t seen any views from that country: will the same thing happen again after this post, I wonder?
I am not sure who reads this blog in Kazakhstan and whether they are in Astana, Almaty – the largest city – or out on the Steppes of Central Asia, but I send them all best wishes for the celebration of their Independence Day in a couple of weeks time.
This musing about the geographical distribution of readers naturally followed on from writing the previous post about the likelihood of the need for the recruitment of overseas teachers to work in schools in England finding it challenging to recruitment enough home-based teachers. I doubt many Kazakhstan teachers will be headed for the bright lights of London just yet, but teachers from the Irish Republic do seem to be likely to face a publicity blitz trying to entice them to teach in London and other parts of the country.
Teaching is increasingly becoming a global profession with opportunities to practice across the globe. I first visited international schools in Dubai in 1991, coincidentally taking the first digital pictures on the trip – long since lost – with a Canon camera. The past half century has marked profound technological changes, the tablet might one day rival the original word processor as a change of monumental magnitude, a development rivalled only by the development of the internet that has made the communication of this blog possible. Or, it might, like the fax machine and overhead projector, become little more than a footnote in the history of technology and communications. Either way, I think that a teaching and education approach based upon a nineteenth century model of learning has eventually to succumb to new approaches. What that will mean for teachers and their relationships with pupils isn’t clear.
Such changes will also affect the State and its relationship with its citizens. Transferring the cost of education back to parents might be seen by some governments an alternative to raising taxes, especially as governments may think that such an approach has been working in higher education where tuition fees have been introduced. Although here, pressure to reduce fees through competition has yet to really manifest itself; probably because demand still exceeds supply in most countries.
For us, in England, the core is how to deliver effective learning to those that don’t see the value of schooling? Does that require us to do things better, or to do better things?