The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed).

Freire's vision for education could not be more different from the model being propagated by education 'reformers' like the World Bank, News Corporation and Pearson, or 'philanthropists' like Bill Gates. For them it is simply a matter of pouring into empty heads the minimal amount of knowledge necessary to be able to compete in the labour market. Yet all over the world, from Togo to Philadelphia and from Chile to Spain, there are examples of students who are not prepared to put up with this dismal view of their future. Because, as Freire understood, students are anything but empty. They come into our classrooms with all sorts of knowledge and experience, which we their teachers cannot know. What we must do is learn from them and with them.

Unfortunately, thanks to the intricate web of neo-liberal education reform in which we are presently enmeshed, sometimes teachers and their unions, far from resisting this 'reform' are helping to draw the web even tighter. In schools in the UK for instance, a uniquely punitive inspection system is driving experienced and good teachers out of the profession in their thousands. And it is often other teachers, in management positions, themselves under extreme pressure, who facilitate this exodus and pile the pressure on their colleagues. Meanwhile our union bureaucracies and our global federation Education International too often go along with or even actively participate in education 'reform'. The problem is that too many teacher activists and leaders are fooled by the social justice rhetoric of organisations like the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. Once again we should heed Freire, who explains that the kind of pedagogy which their 'humanitarianism' and 'paternalism' promotes, 'begins with the egoistic interests of the oppressors' and so maintains oppression.

But teachers too have been resisting in 2013. From Mexico to Seattle, from India to Kenya, like the students, many have been in the forefront of the struggle. Let's make 2014 the year when teachers everywhere say no to reform which they know to be damaging to children and to education. Let's make it the year when we insist that our unions lead the fight back and stop co-operating with the education 'reformers' and their doublespeak. And, echoing and turning on its head the popular slogan of teacher struggle in South America:'la maestra, luchanda, tambien esta ensenanda' (the teacher in struggle is also teaching), let's make it the year when all of us learn from and fight with the same urgency as our students, who have nothing to lose but the chains of a reductive, underfunded and dehumanised education, and nothing to gain but a future.