Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.
On being perfect
I want to speak up for my beliefs about my work learning with young children.
I do not want to be compliant with things I do not believe. But when I think about challenging rules or rulings, I find myself concerned about needing to be above reproach first.
I am not a perfect teacher. My portfolios are not up to date. I struggle to evidence the learning cycle for every individual child. My room has clutter.
Even as I write these examples, I think, “Oh no – if I tell them that, they will think I am a bad teacher.” Once they see me as a bad teacher, that colours their view of everything I do. And it devalues my opinions. I can only be worth listening to if I am a good teacher.
To present publicly as a good teacher, I have to be doing everything well. I have to have all my documentation up to date and showing deep understanding of the EYLF. I have to feed the 7 folders. I have to have my room decluttered, with natural materials and beautifully presented. I have to keep on top of all this while maintaining strong relationships with children and families, and meeting the needs of each individual child and being competent in each family culture, and creating a positive environment and really caring and greeting everyone with a smile and not wearing jeans.
If I am seen as a competent and committed teacher, I may be able to get away with challenging things. But if I am seen as uncommitted or incompetent, my challenges will be interpreted as an excuse for getting out of the work.
There are a lot of things I want to question about current systems and changes. But I am aware of feeling the need to be beyond reproach before I can do that publicly. If I make public statements about how I think things should be, and then I am revealed as inadequate, the consequences are not only for me. The views I express are then in danger of being tainted by my inadequacy. I could be letting down the side.
And now the penny drops.
The workload silences us.
We can only challenge things about the system if we can demonstrate that we are perfect operators; that our challenge is not about finding excuses for our personal failings. But if the workload is superhuman, if the expectations are skyhigh, we can never master it. So we never earn the right to have our voices heard when we challenge those expectations, or when we ask
‘Who are we really doing this for?”
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