Thursday, 3 December 2015


I could never be a full time teacher I must admit. Having worked for the past year and a half for just one day a week with young students age 6 to 18, I take my hat off to those who can do that five days a week.

But I do love it. Their imaginations know no bounds, and in teaching them the creative art of film making, this is a big bonus. The key to the success of the classes is giving them control in how the films are shaped, and adapting my teaching style to their demands. When I first started I turned up with a list of things to teach them, but very quickly I realised that was the wrong approach. It was their feedback and interaction that dictated how the lesson was structured. It wasn't about what I thought they needed to learn, it was about what they wanted to learn. Now I create lessons that generate questions from them, and this makes them both more interested and more active in the class. In a sense it gives them ownership of the process.

It was with my love of teaching young people how to make films, that I have for some time been formulating an idea to run my own workshops in my local community, both as a business plan and as an extension to what I have a passion for. So recently I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend a local community meeting, run by the local community council, all about young people in Portobello and what they wanted. I looked forward to finding out first hand what their ideas were.

Imagine then my surprise to find a hall of around 60 adults with the average age of late 40s. The meeting presented survey results from canvassing 375 young people in Portobello. The aim of the meeting was to take those results forward and introduce new activities, clubs etc for the young people.

But not one young person had been invited.

The group split into six smaller groups who then discussed what could be done. I sat there dumbfounded that anyone would think that our ideas and plans would be greeted with open arms by the young people themselves. We needed to have them there so they could tell us what they wanted. I could see suggestions by us then being discussed and either taken up or dismissed. But in reality we were in a "cart before the horse" situation.

I put forward one idea of forming a group of young people with the same remit that this meeting had as its agenda, and left it at that. It was almost funny to listen to these adults getting excited about their ideas, and all the time thinking, "but what do the kids think?!"

I may not be a full time professional teacher, but I think I have a grasp of how young minds work.

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