Educator calls for less ‘tick-box teaching’ and more creativity


Professor Welby Ings … talking “disobedient thinking” at TedxAuckland in 2013, some of the ideas underpinning his new book. Video: TedxTalks

Despite being expelled from secondary school and suspended from teachers college, AUT Professor Welby Ings’ new book is about a lifetime of inspirational teaching.

Professor Ings … challenges “dehumanised learning”. Image: AUT

Disobedient Teaching: Surviving and creating change in education was launched at Auckland University of Technology tonight.

Professor Ings says he wrote the book because he has for a long time questioned the “dehumanised systems of learning” and New Zealand’s preoccupation with micromanaging teachers.

“In the book, I question the obsession we have with assessing performance, and argue for higher levels of creativity in learning, teaching and educational management,” he says.

Disobedient Teaching takes a stand against our national obsession with testing and reporting. It calls for higher levels of teacher agency and learning that operate away from the restrictions of performance indicators, predetermined criteria and tick-box teaching.

Professor Ings argues that “positive disobedience” is a fundamental teaching behaviour among successful practitioners, and the ability of excellent teachers to change learning and learning environments is predicated on it.

His book examines creativity, assessment, passion, our obsession with “success”, and how teachers influence change. To do this it tells stories from the chalk face. Some are funny and some are heartbreaking, but they all happen in New Zealand schools.

Disobedient Teaching suggests that the essence of what makes a great teacher is the ability to stand up to, and change educational practices that have been shaped by “anxiety, ritual and convention”.

In the face of New Zealand’s increasing and uncritical political obsession with accountability and reporting, his book argues the transformative power of teachers who think, critique, defy and act.

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