System vs Students and Teachers

Uncategorized May 16, 2022

I recently had the following comment from a teacher in the thread on one of my posts on LinkedIn: 

I absolutely love my job as do so many in our field but the incessant focus on results, in particular at High School level is damaging to all: parents demand them, teachers worry about them and students become stressed and fixated on them rather than the content and the life learning. It cannot be avoided whilst Universities depend on those grades, points or whatever is the entry requirement”

For me this is really telling and it seems top resonate with teachers from different parts of the globe. The incessant focus on exam results and grades puts a huge amount of pressure on both teachers and students. I’ve heard both say “nothing ever seems good enough. They only ever say that you’ve got to do more”. 

Surely that’s not right! The government, civil service and a myriad of other organisations, including schools and universities and colleges make a huge noise about the importance of dealing with the mental health issues experienced by students. This is really important issue, and I can see two things wrong with this. What do you think? 

  1. Very few, possibly none, of them are doing anything about empowering their students with the emotional intelligence, career and life skills that will help most of them manage their mental health effectively (leaving more resources to help those who really need support).
  2. And few, again possibly none, of them are looking after their teachers and other staff in the same way.

Imagine if, at the heart of the curriculum, were the skills to empower students and teachers to look after their emotional wellbeing, prepare effectively for their career and other areas of adult life. Imagine if the focus was to help each individual recognise and make the most of the things that make them shine so that they can thrive now and in the future.

How would that positively impact learning? What if everybody turned up in the classroom with the skills to make the most of each lesson? What might be possible in terms of the benefits, not just to the individuals directly affected, but to their families and communities, the organisations they work for now and in the future, to our wider society? 

The system needs to change, as the comment said, from “the incessant focus on results”. I would say also, to change the focus from pushing young people towards university when there are so many great alternatives. Recognise that some genius’s just aren’t academic. It’s about helping each person find the route that is right for them and giving them the skills to decide on and navigate their own future.

A bit of a rant, but I’ll conclude with this: its time for the leaders in schools, colleges academies and universities to stand up and admit that their service is not fit for the purposes of their main stakeholders, the students. Don’t blame the system. Use your influence to help it change.

  • Is that a long journey? Possibly, possibly not!
  • Will there be challenges along the way? You’re damn right there will be!
  • Is the journey possible? Absolutely. 

Every journey starts with the first step!

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