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Interesting times

21 October 2009

The dear husband has brought a set-top box to our current home in Sydney and I have been watching Teachers TV Australia – a channel I have never been offered before – with obsessive fascination, particularly the UK content (Teachers TV). (Note related sites and

As video content, the format of Teachers TV is usually straightforward: committed teacher, supported by a roving expert or a wise deputy and head, develops a practical solution to the particular needs of a class and significant learning takes place all round. I love it; I can’t get enough of it; and, while my favourite stories are probably from working class British schools, with all the honesty and grit of the older-style Bill episodes, I am fascinated by the diversity of problems and solutions across the two countries.

The teachers are so thoughtful, hard-working and well-informed overall, that it comes as a shock to have a window on a lesson suddenly going bad. It was a lesson on descriptive writing, and started off with questioning from the teacher about why a passage – a girl in a garden, I think, with an pretty old house behind her – was interesting to read.

‘It’s not interesting’, said one young student, ‘it sucks.’ He seemed to be speaking for quite a few of his classmates.

Instead of going with this assessment, and finding out why it wasn’t interesting, the teacher strove valiantly on with her plan: but as well as serving as a reminder to not ask a class questions unless you are ready to work with their answers, it also made me think again but how teachable and quantifiable interesting writing is.

And how interest and learning are not just good partners – they’re bedfellows.

©riot, from Flickr

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