Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Why Having a Plan my Not be the Best Plan (My goodbye Gove rant)

So, former Education Secretaries and Mr. Gove (goodbye) and all you toe-the-party-line Ofsted Inspectors, you are wrong.  Planning is complete and utter waste of time.

As a qualified primary school teacher, I used to spend a considerable amount of my time long, medium and short-term planning.  I get long term planning, I even can put up with medium term planning but daily session plans?  Really?  Come on!  An utter waste of time!

This opinion flies in the face of what we were taught at university and on my PT courses and pretty much most of the advice you read about training and going to the gym and eating clean: fail to plan, plan to fail.

Well, I’ve decided it’s nonsense.  All of it!

You don’t need to plan; you need to assess!
If you can think, if you can fundamentally understand your subject, if you have confidence in your own abilities (and they haven’t been eroded by unqualified parliamentarians with their own agendas, Ofsted Inspectors with the government’s agendas, scared bosses with Ofsted’s agenda or people telling you the only way you can lose weight is by counting stupid points) and you know how to assess (on the hoof and formally) then you absolutely do not need lesson, session, gym or diet plans!

All you need to know is where you are and where you are going and you absolutely have to understand fundamentally how to get from a to b and if you have strayed from the path, why.  That is all the planning you need.

When a child doesn’t get today’s mathematical concept, as a teacher, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how children learn and why they get stuck.  Is this child struggling because of a gap in their knowledge that prevents them from understanding today’s work?  If so, bashing away at your carefully planned lesson not only will not yield results, it may further confuse the child and risks alienating them entirely from the subject and from you.

Teachers know this, I’m not telling them anything new.  I’m just questioning why the plan is there in the first place when you absolutely know  (especially if your sessions are challenging) 1 in 100 actually goes to plan!

It’s the same with training.  When a client can’t do an overhead squat, as a trainer, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how the body moves and why you might get stuck!  Is this client struggling because of a basic lack of mobility in their ankles or shoulders that prevents them from achieving a decent overhead squat?  If so, bashing away at your carefully planned session not only will not yield results, it may injur the client and reinforce incorrect movement patterns and risks alienating them from the exercise and from you!

Perhaps it’s nothing to do with a gap in knowledge or a lack of mobility.  Perhaps it’s to do with a distraction, miscommunication, a lack of breakfast, a morning argument, a windy day…

Once you can assess where the child or your client or you yourself are at, at that given moment, you can use your own actual brain to decide, on the hoof, how to proceed!

A combination of accurate and regular diagnostic assessment and a fundamental understanding of your subject as well as the knowledge of where you aim to be and when, is enough planning!

It’s similar with losing weight and eating clean.  If you struggle to lose weight, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how your body uses different macronutrients, why you eat a certain way, why you need to eat a different way and what happens to your body mind and spirit when you don’t.  You don’t need someone telling you what to eat and when to eat it and how many points or calories to consume if you understand nutrition and your mind!  Where are you at?  Where do you want to be?  Understand on a deep basic level how to get there and the journey writes itself!

Now, if you are a gym-goer or a serial dieter, you can arm yourself with this knowledge through reading and research easily.  But if you struggle to assess yourself competently, get a trainer!  They can do all of the above!

The reason my move away from the teaching profession and into personal training is so rewarding is I get to trust my gut instincts, without writing every last bit of it down, and my clients get to trust me!

Why don’t teachers get to do this?  Mr. Gove?  Oh, hang on, your opinion no longer counts.  Shame it ever did!

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