The teacher and the surgeon

Here’s an often told story that puts educational change in perspective. I can’t remember where I first heard it but I’ve told it many times since to illustrate how slowly education is changing to meet the needs of today.

A teacher and a surgeon from 100 years ago were magically transported from their places of work to an operating theatre and classroom today.

The surgeon commented first.

“What’s this?” He cried. “What are all these machines for? These lights, these controls on the wall, the screen here that moves over the bed, are these cameras, what do these controls do? Does this go over your ears? What is all this? It is nothing like my operating theatre I would not know where to start or what to do. The world of the surgeon has completely and utterly changed.”

The teacher then arrived in the classroom.
“Oh yes” he said. “The tables, the chairs. This is where the teacher sits. The books on the shelves, the board looks a little different but is still here at the front where everyone can see it. Yes it’s all pretty much as I remember it! I’ll be fine here, not a lot has changed in the world of the teacher.”

Education. Changing at the margin!

As an addition to this comparison a friend and colleague of mine, Dr Neil Hopkin (@neilhopkin) recently gave this example – it relates to CPD but I think, is worth mention here.

“If you were going to the doctors, you’d want to know that your GP was trained in all the latest methods, using the latest research and technology to help diagnose any problems and assist with any treatment.   Yet we don’t make a fuss when our children aren’t taught using the most up to date methods, using the most up to date research, with the most modern technology.”

Neil makes a very important point – although some teachers and schools are blessed with the most up to date environments and technology, for many this isn’t the norm.   We need to ensure the best training, the best equipment and the best resources for all if we are to truly take teaching into tomorrow.


About smichael920

Headteacher of a large primary school in North West England. Helping me to blur the distinction between work and home, I am also father of five, covering most phases of education thus giving me the lowdown from within and without. Education is about enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow. This can't be done using the tools of the past. View all posts by smichael920

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