There is a saying, “The Eyes Have It”, which has great truth in it, even if we often neglect to consider it. It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul and we can learn so much about someone by looking into their eyes (difficult though it may be in some cultures). Look into someone’s eyes and we can see their joy, pain or fear. A person may be smiling with their mouth but not with their eyes. The eyes contain the truth.

There is another but similar sounding saying, “The Ayes Have It”, which is a common expression in parliamentary terminology indicating when the majority of people voting in a debate approve of the motion. The ‘Ayes’, the ‘Yeses’, win. It is a positive and exciting outlook. The ayes contain the truth. When it comes to education we may also follow the same argument: the ‘I’s have it! Two words beginning with the letter ‘I’ could be our focus this term; we must use our eyes to see the powerful and positive effect that these two simple principles can have on our pupils.

Many would automatically think that the first ‘I’ would be Intelligence, whether it be the traditional IQ (Intelligence Quotient) that people love to measure pupils with, or the more recent concept of EI or EQ (Emotional Intelligence), or even the most modern AI (Artificial Intelligence), that may be found in technology. Yet each of these ways of measuring pupils, and of defining education, are flawed. Equally, the second ‘I’ must not be Indoctrination, the rote-learning, parrot-repeating, fact regurgitating of whatever the teacher or textbook says. In our schools, such education is entirely misplaced, not least for depriving pupils of the opportunity to think for themselves.

The first ‘I’ that I would encourage us to focus on with both eyes is that of Illustration, not least as more and more our pupils find it easier to see and speak in pictures – think emojis, emoticons and selfies! They need to see how they fit into the concept, how it affects real modern life, what it means in practical terms. We need to give them an example. I have just made a statement (“pupils find it easier to see and speak in pictures”) and followed it up with an example to illustrate the point (“think emojis, emoticons and selfies”). Having done that, others should be able to give their own examples and the point is understood. Give examples!

Secondly, we would do well to focus with our two eyes on Imitation, not least as young people want to see if what we say works, is believed and makes sense. The best way for them to do it is for them to see it in us. As teachers, our most powerful means of educating our pupils is by being an example to them. No pupil will accept a teacher who tells the child to hand in work on time but who then returns the work late himself. Be examples!

Not only do the eyes and the ayes contain the truth for us as teachers but so too do the ‘I’s. We must use our eyes as teachers to see if what we are sharing is getting through to our pupils. We must use our ‘ayes’ as teachers to affirm all that is positive in our pupils’ work. Above all, we must use our two ‘I’s as teachers, Illustration and Imitation, to give our pupils examples and to set our pupils examples, so that they in turn can see a whole new world. Aye aye!

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