“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein
If you can measure something, then you can quantify it. If you can quantify it, then you can test how much of it has been achieved. This is how it will be in the brave new world of education, or so it would seem. But there is a great deal in life that cannot be measured, that simply cannot be quantified, no matter how much we might like to fool ourselves that it can be. We cannot measure …
In Guess How Much I Love You (Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, Walker 2009) Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare each try to out do the other, in a competition to see who loves the other the most. The book ends as Little Nutbrown Hare falls asleep, with the words of Big Nutbrown Hare echoing in his ears: “I love you all the way to the moon … and back.”
I’ve worked with newly qualified teachers for many years. I’ve trained new teachers for organisations as diverse as the NUT, FastTrack and Cambridge University, for a number of local authorities, and at many schools and colleges in the UK and overseas. Over those years I believe that I have given a lot to new teachers in these training events. But a great deal of what I have ‘given’ them cannot be subjected to measurement – it counts, but it cannot be counted.
I’ve helped them …
build the confidence to say ‘this is my classroom, these are my rules’ and to know what to do if things go wrong;
understand that we all make mistakes, and that we can use these mistakes to move forwards;
think about their emotional reactions to individual students, and why they must take care not to treat those they like more kindly than those they don’t;
be aware of the subconscious perceptions that children make about their teachers, based on how the teachers behave, and how this might impact on what happens in their classrooms;
build a belief in themselves as creative professionals, and shown them how to devise imaginative approaches to teaching and learning.
And I like to believe that I’ve inspired them to love teaching, and to feel that (even at the hardest of times) it is the most wonderful vocation. Now I’m pretty sure that none of this could be ‘evidenced’ in a research study. So yes, it cannot be counted, but it sure as hell counts.