Two Men for Student Leadership in Pakistan

Two teachers; Nicholas Garrick and Peter Hall-Jones visited Pakistan in order to work with various local teachers. The aim of this workshop was to create awareness of 'leadership skills' amongst teachers who will then go onto build 'leadership values' amongst the children they teach. We had a Q&A session with them. Here's what they had to say:

  1. Tell us about your background and why did you choose teaching as a career?

Peter:  I trained to be a kindergarten teacher specialising as a dance and art teacher, commencing my first job in London in 1983. I was fortunate to be made head teacher of a primary school in Leeds in 1992. With great staff, super kids and parents, the school enjoyed national acclaim for its successful work on inclusion, community engagement and innovative curriculum and pedagogy - this success allowed me the opportunity to work with National Government and a range of agencies, contributing to policy, books and conferences across Europe. I became a consultant and set up the Spiral Partnership in 2003 and The Curriculum Foundation in 2006 around the same time as commencing work as a freelance consultant with the British Council as a leadership consultant and now as a school advisor.  From the age of 16 I knew I wanted to be a teacher and help change the world and make it a fairer place for the oppressed and underprivileged and the underrepresented. This is still my goal every day.

Nick: I always wanted to be a teacher, and from a very early age, as my Mother is a teacher. I spent much of my childhood and teenage years in her classroom and school. These formative experiences shaped my view that teaching is special and exciting.  Having said this, I was encouraged by both my parents to consider an alternative career as once you start on the teaching path, it is difficult to deviate. I chose Design Engineering at university as it was here my creative talents lay.  After this, I choose to go straight into teaching as the Engineering world was not one that I particularly liked. 
I started teaching in 2001 and became specialist in Creativity and Curriculum in my third year of teaching. In 2006, Deputy and Acting Headship introduced me to the importance of effective and creative school leadership. However being in one school felt claustrophobic and so I decided to leave, set up a consultancy and work with any many teachers to change and develop in the world as possible, as well as part-time school leadership. Now I run Lighting up Learning and am an Associate Principal, supporting teaching and learning in school in challenging circumstances. 

2. Why should each individual have leadership skills, if yes, then why is it important? 

Peter: Each individual does have leadership skills; it is the level of efficiency that differs. Efficiency is the belief to what extent we believe we can bring about a change. It is important to help develop each person’s efficiency so they can use their leadership skills to make their world and our shared world better tomorrow than it is today for those who we can care for.

Nick: We have no concept of what the future work will be like. The change and development of technology, political and social every student is a potential global leader: Prime Ministers, Presidents, CEOs, Ambassadors, Faith Leaders were all students once in a class taught by teachers.  Every teacher should consider that they may well have the next leader of their country in their class.

3. What is an ideal teacher in your opinion and what are your top tips to success?

Peter: The ideal teacher for me is someone who loves children enough to do what is required to help the learner learn, what they need to learn and who raises the learners aspirations, so they keep wanting and needing to learn more. My 1 tip for success as a teacher is to believe 'that they are clever enough if I am good enough’.

Nick: The relentless pursuit to expose children to what is possible through any means possible: creative, factual, knowledge or skill. It is the duty of the teacher to put the children’s future first and the past second. A child should be defined by their potential and not the grade they were given yesterday.

Top tips for success: 

  • Teach less and learn more: teachers need to put themselves away and get the students to consider what and how they are learning. 
  • No child left behind: all children have the right to achieve and progress through everything they do. It is a failure of the teacher if a child does not progress, not the child. 
  • Always ask: why am I teaching this? So, what… If teachers are not aware of why they need to teach certain skills or knowledge then they may not value it and therefore not transferring energy to students. 
  • Make connections, not judgements: Ask students ‘what' and ‘how' they think or know something, not why. 
  • Teach students to be a teacher: If a child cannot teach someone else what they have learnt; they haven’t learnt it.

4. Conducting a two day National Student Leadership workshop, what are your thoughts on Pakistani teachers and what potential do you see?

Peter: I think Pakistan has amongst the very best most committed brave and passionate teachers in the world - this is my fourth visit to your wonderful country, I love it and greatly enjoy and appreciate the honour and the challenge of working with your finest teachers who could hold their position anywhere in the world.

Nick: As it was my first visit to Pakistan, my perceptions have been challenged. The media portrays a very different image of present Pakistan, and yet what I met was the most focussed, socially aware and future centric group I have every worked with. The future of Pakistan is certainly very bright if this group is to go by.