Adventure Starts Here
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
Kate Rogers Big Leadership Adventure 2020/21
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently.”
Steve Jobs, 1997*
I’ll never forget the first class I taught when I embarked on my teaching career. The deputy headteacher at the time described them as ‘a box of frogs’. Who would have known that Steve Jobs would come up with a better description for them, before they were even born.
There was no doubt that each one of my year two class saw the world differently. Some of them struggled to read the most basic letters, others could read nine-digit numbers. Some of them stepped over needles to get to their beds each night, others were taken to church every Sunday. Some of them would shake with anxiety at the prospect of writing the long date instead of the short date, others would throw chairs across the classroom.
Them seeing the world differently wasn’t a problem. Standardised testing was.
When I was 12, I discovered a love of music and throughout my teenage years I learned to play the church organ and the drums (a classic combination). Not wanting to dedicate my entire life to music, I went onto study a BA in Music and Philosophy (another classic combination! In fact, I was the only one at Cardiff University studying that specific degree). I’ve always loved learning and understanding the big picture, so this degree suited me perfectly.
The trickier aspect was deciding on a career path, so I went to a career advisor. She gave me an online questionnaire to complete in order to see which careers would suit my fairly bizarre skill set. The computer generated just one suggestion – MI6.
Honestly, the prospect of becoming a female James Bond was pretty cool, but I decided to go with something slightly less life-threatening – Primary School Teaching.
This brings me back to ‘my box of frogs’ class and the problem of standardised testing. My mission from SLT was simple – get as many of them as possible to work at ‘Expected Standard’. It literally was like crushing round pegs into square holes. I wanted to spend time exploring the arts with them and unleashing their natural creativity. The late, great Sir Ken Robinson said that schools are educating children out of creativity and my class was absolute proof of that.
I decided to quit. I was only one term away from completing my NQT year, but teaching had begun to feel immoral. My partner and I set up ‘The Early Energy Centre’ in our hometown in Cornwall, which included a choir, dance, theatre company and music sessions. Our ambition was to give children access to the arts that they should be experiencing at school. These experiences are crucial because they give children the skills they really need to be happy and fulfilled – confidence, creativity, communication skills and compassion.
At the same time, I also wanted to prove scientifically that our current system of education needs a drastic overhaul. This led me to studying Cognitive Psychology at Cambridge and an MSc in Educational Neuroscience at UCL IOE.
My dream now is to draw all of my skills and experiences together to redesign the education system. I love the idea of building a free school that prepares children for the 21st Century. A Google search uncovered School 21 and the Big Education community – it was like I had found my tribe. The Big Leadership Adventure is the perfect place for me to meet like-minded individuals and become the leader I need to be in order to change the system. Changing education is the key to changing anything – the world will be a better place if we can accomplish that mission. It’s a huge dream, but if we hear just a few more lines from Steve Jobs’ same speech: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”