Meet Our People: James Wright, Secondary Professional Tutor and Subject Lead for RE & Citizenship
"To have the opportunity to play a significant role in the lives of a large and diverse group of children and young people as they forge their way through the formative years of adolescence, exploring identities, and questioning the world around them, is one of the most meaningful, enriching, and sometimes challenging, privileges I can imagine."
It certainly keeps your mind active and sense of humour intact! As a Secondary Phase ITE Tutor and Lead for the RE and Citizenship training at Harris ITE, I get to work across a community of schools with talented and diverse trainee teachers all keen to take on this challenge.
Young people in secondary school are at an age when they are trying to make sense of the world on individual, local, national and global levels. As a Citizenship and RE teacher, I work with the children to challenge the notion that their 'real' lives begin only once they leave school or start work. The children and young people we work with are already citizens of the world, affected by and in turn affecting increasingly fast-paced and complex societies. Their experience and perspectives are valuable and unique, and invariably differ from my own. Students’ comprehension of the relevance of their learning to their own lives is an essential window through which knowledge can pass and understanding develop.
RE and Citizenship provide ideal avenues for this. The opportunity to encounter and examine the world through the lenses of different religious perspectives and philosophies provides further avenues and landscapes to explore the big moral questions of our time and species. This can be particularly satisfying with an age group who, given the encouragement and support, can often surprise themselves by their growth in confidence as they develop their thinking and abilities to communicate increasingly complex ideas.
In both my Undergraduate and Master’s degree courses I studied concepts of identity, equity and justice. In teaching these concepts in schools, student questions and perspectives frequently lead me to re-visit and think further, developing my ideas and understanding. In this way, as well as helping to guide and support secondary students to develop as critical learners and thinkers, and to engage actively as citizens within their local, national and global communities, I get to learn from their experiences and insights. This in turn enriches my understanding of contemporary difficulties and opportunities, and helps me become a more informed, effective and critical citizen myself.
I find it deeply satisfying that, as a teacher, I am continually learning. This is one of the reasons why I believe the job of teaching is such a comprehensive and all-encompassing training. You develop confidence as a public speaker and leader, but also humility. You learn the confidence and skills to adapt and respond flexibly to ever-changing circumstances, inputs or disruptions. You learn to engage effectively and build relationships with a wide range of people, and you have the satisfaction of doing something that has a real impact.
I love the sense of connection to a place and a community which teaching gives you. In the role of teacher, you are helping to shape not just the lives of individual children, but also the wider communities of which you and those children are a part. A genuine sense of purpose and authenticity comes from such a responsibility and, although not without its challenges, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to hold such a meaningful position.
Harris is a great place to start your career in teaching. Alongside practical teaching experience, gained in high-performing and dynamic schools across Greater London, you will extend and deepen your subject knowledge through specialist training and tailored subject days from experienced and skilled education professionals.