In my day job I’m a teacher educator, working at The Northern College, Barnsley, in Yorkshire, UK. I’ve been at the College since 2000, arriving via a short and brutal career in Lou Nice Pic March 2016community development. My professional background is Public Health. As a tutor for the Community Regeneration Programme at Northern College, I saw the same students come back time and time again, bringing new cohorts of volunteers, and it occurred to me that sustainability might be better met, if key people learned to teach.
So that’s how it started. I’d had a mixed experience of teacher education, as a student. A non-accredited ‘Training the Trainers’ course at the Centre for HIV and Sexual Health in Sheffield quite literally changed my life (no surprise to learn of its grounding in Freirean principles then), but the PGCE I later completed was hindered by my own bad attitude (“I just need the qualification” – how arrogant) and the dullness of the course. If teaching was exciting – and it is – why should teacher training be anything less than a transformational learning experience?
Since 2008 we’ve been developing a pedagogy of social purpose education, which I believe offers hope for the future of education. I was also lucky to train with Nancy Kline as a Thinking Environment Coach and Consultant (Kline, 2009), a connection back to those early days at the Centre for HIV and Sexual Health. Alongside our commitment to the democratising potential of social media, what we offer on the TeachNorthern programme is a rich environment in which people can think critically for themselves, and act collectively in praxis.
I also write (I love to write). This blog, articles whenever I get the chance, on social media…Twitter has been the single most helpful discipline for my writing. I’ve contributed to three books and am proudest of my chapter with Jane Weatherby in Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Watch this space for our next outing with many of the same mischievous team, based on Machiavelli’s The Prince.