Sunday, 17 November 2013

Mantle of the Expert - From the Heart

This blog post is from the heart and I make no apologies for that.

I have watched with growing dismay this weekend whilst people attack and ridicule something which I hold dear and feel very strongly about. Mantle of the Expert is a method of teaching which was introduced by the late Dorothy Heathcote(above). I had the privilege of working with her, watching her work and learning from her. I say ‘privilege’ because that is what it was; she was insightful, driven and passionate about her work. I have seen children enthralled in their learning, compassionate, focussed, and desperate to learn more and push themselves. I have seen empathy, cooperation, discussion, pupil led sessions, research, design and so much more. I am proud to embrace this teaching style.
To the detractors out there, I would not dream of telling you what to do in your classroom, YOU are the one who knows your children and what ‘works’ for them – I’m not talking research here I’m talking from the heart! So if you feel that this way of working is not for you, then you are right – don’t use it – you have a choice!
What gives you the right to ridicule Mantle of the expert when many of you who are doing so admit that you have ‘read about it’ – nothing can replace seeing it in action – the moment a child realises that the verdict of ‘Act of God’ at the end of a trial where 26 children died is unfair but that’s the way of the world cannot be explained in words.
Please be cynical if you want but don’t attack others, it’s just counter productive.
Don’t presume
·          Don’t presume that  because you’ve read about it  you understand it.
·         Don’t presume that you have the right to foist your opinion onto others.
·         Don’t presume that you have a right to tell me what works in my classroom (yes I know it infuriates people when I say that but do you know what  - I don’t care!)
·          Don’t presume that because I embrace Mantle of the Expert I’m woolly minded and don’t care about pedagogy – I do and I spend hours researching and reading to improve my work.

I don’t normally ‘bite’ when people are being critical on Twitter but this weekend was a step too far. There are hundreds of passionate committed teachers using Mantle of the Expert and unless you understand it or are prepared to watch and learn – your views aren’t based on anything other than point scoring. Let’s be open minded and learn from each other – I know I want the best for my pupils and can only hope that all pupils have someone who cares.