Yesterday it was announced that a Labour Government would create a new designation of ‘Master Teacher’, as part of a ‘drive to raise standards’. Setting aside any questions about whether this is a good idea or not, when I run the word ‘Master’ through my brain, here’s how the ticker tape comes out:
… man … boy … strong … powerful … master plan … public school master … master race … slave … masterpiece … masterful … cane … dominate …
At this point the ticker tape gets visual, so I’ll spare you the details. But when the tape runs out, I’m left wondering: ‘Hey, where were all the women?’
Words do not exist in a vacuum: they come with connotations. They have historical and cultural associations. The term you choose defines what your idea is. So what I’d like to know is this: does Mr Hunt visualise squads of Master Teachers, grasping their subjects by the neck and squashing their weaker colleagues into shape? Or does he actually mean a group of subject and pedagogy specialists, both women and men, who work alongside their colleagues to model and build good practice? And, if it is the latter, might I respectfully suggest that he picks an alternative* (and preferably a more inclusive) term instead.
* e.g. ‘expert teacher’, ‘consultant teacher’, ‘mentor teacher’ or perhaps even (gasps) ‘advanced skills teacher’.