Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
Image of Hilary Wilce

The Quandary - 12 Nov 2009

I am very physical in how I teach drama. My new head has told me to change. Do I have to?

Hillary's Advice

High on my Christmas book list this year will be Trust: How We Lost It and How To Get It Back, by Anthony Seldon, the head of the Wellington College, who argues that the loss of this vital commodity is sapping society. He is right.

You say you are an experienced drama teacher who thinks nothing of giving a student a hug, or moving pupils around by the shoulders. What harm is there in that? But your timid new head is clearly terrified someone will decide these things are the first steps on the nasty road to child abuse.

In making this assumption, he Ė letís assume itís a he -- is not trusting you to do your job as you think best, not trusting his students to know the difference between normal human contact and physical touching driven by bullying or sexual desire, and not trusting parents to understand this either.

These are, of course, real worries. Unfounded allegations against teachers are made with depressing regularity these days. But a confident school leader would take his own measure of your teaching style, back you if he felt all was well, and only intervene if there was a problem.

Ask your head who exactly has complained about your classroom manner or teaching performance. Explain that it will be difficult to curb your natural exuberance and challenge the assumptions behind his request that you should do so. If he is unbending, and you are confident there is nothing wrong in how you teach, you may want to consider moving jobs.