Our education system failed me I dreaded every day of school and after years of wasted opportunities I came out with nothing. (OK one English O’level). Such a disappointment I am sure to my parents who encouraged me to stay on another year in case I was a late developer, I was late alright by another 20 years! Never mind it was probably the school and they would have more luck with my sister who they somehow managed to get into an all girls catholic school. Guess what she did about as well as me. Perhaps my brother had a better chance of shining, his father had at least been to university so just maybe he had the more intelligent gene (not that our mother is stupid, far from it!) but alas he didn’t fair much better.
Back in the early 90’s I completed a full year of teacher training in order to achieve a bachelor of education degree but I dropped out at the end frustrated by the lack of opportunity to use any creativity. The education system seemed so rigid to me and my teaching practices didn’t allow for the sharing or exploration of new ideas with other teaching staff. With the curriculum as it stands , you deliver it as and when you are told and are measured as to how good a teacher you are by the number of A stars your pupils achieve.
Today I visit schools to deliver training or to take part in meetings to discuss a particular child and there so called problems and it seems not much has changed. Teachers are dictated to about what they teach and when and the children must be able to sit still and learn in a particular fashion. Now we know we all have different maps of the world and different learning styles so it must be an enormous challenge to deliver a lesson on a subject that quite frankly is probably completely irrelevant to a class of thirty very different individuals. Ah Ha you’re not allowed to be an individual, stray too far from the norm and you will end up being referred to our service! We mostly see very creative intelligent young people whose contribution to the world could be enormous if they could be channeled in the right direction. Instead these kids fit like square pegs in a round hole. They don’t do boredom and won’t sit there for hours just because that are told to do so. They don’t see the point and quite frankly I often have to agree with them. Unfortunately in this country unless your willing to pay a lot of money there doesn’t seem to be many choices available if any?
Have any of you read the Celestine Prophecy? I digress a little but bear with me. This is just a simple, easy to read, book of fiction (although the author admits his intention of it being more of a parable to illustrate a point) . It discuses various psychological and spiritual ideas and talks much about co- incidences. The book is a first-person narrative of spiritual awakening. The narrator is in a transitional period of his life, and begins to notice instances of synchronicity, which is the belief that coincidences have a meaning personal to those who experience them.
The book starts like this:
“For half a century now, a new consciousness has been entering the human world, a new awareness that can only be called transcendent, spiritual. If you find yourself reading this book, then perhaps you already sense what is happening, already feel it inside.”
Recently I have met a guy, well I haven’t actually met him yet, but he is coming to sing at my charity birthday festival. And by co- incidence he shares some of mine and Colin’s beliefs about the education system on offer for our children here in the UK today. (see there is a link) David kindly sent me a link to a school in America, which he was fortunate enough to spend some time visiting. At this school the children choose what they want to learn and when, If they choose to play video games all day then thats what they do. Now before you make a judgement, about what you think about that, take a look at the film on their website and then come back.
I was reminded of a conversation I had with a teacher who couldn’t understand why this particular boy had no interest in attending school. I asked her for a good reason why he should. She was flabbergasted by this question and looked at me in horror as she firmly stated to get an education of course! Is that the only way we become educated?
Here is a quote from one of the children who attend The Sudbury Valley School.
“I didn’t really think about getting an education. I didn’t understand the idea of having to artificially “get” an education. I thought that you lived in the world and you got smarter because every day you were learning. I thought that there was no way you could get dumber unless you were erasing stuff out of your brain. It seemed to me that one day you were talking to someone about one subject and another day you were talking to someone about another, and eventually you’d get around to all of them.”
A few years ago now a colleague and I were asked to speak to a large audience of teachers, on an inset day about managing stress. It was the end of the summer holidays and the day before the new school year. ( I’m not sure the timing was great). Besides speaking we were also on hand to offer a few individual sessions for any teachers wishing to make use of our skills and time. I think we only had time for 6 slots between us and they soon got filled. Each one of the teachers we saw broke down in tears as they described the stress of teaching, lack of supervision and support, bullying and fear of failure, and the new year hadn’t even started! How were these teachers meant to act as good role models? I very strongly believe to have mentally healthy children we need to start with mentally health adults. Sue and I ended up with recommending to some of these teachers they visit their GP as.the signs of clinical depression were clearly there.
Surely it is time for us to rethink our educational system.
Would you agree?
Have a great weekend
ps just in case your worried about your kids spelling this ones for you:
I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh?