Education and co-incidence…

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?

11 thoughts on “Education and co-incidence…

  1. I sort of agree with you Debbie – having found it impossible to concentrate on much at all except boys from age fourteen to sixteen, I wasn’t engaged at all at my school and thus got kicked out of the first one at fifteen. But looking back, I don’t think a lot of the teachers would have had the right skills to get the best out of me whether they had a rigid curriculum or complete freedom. I think a lot depends on the qualities of the teacher and I don’t believe those qualities can easily be taught to them – certainly not by a state system. I’ve been to Steiner summer schools with my children and found them marvellous. Would I have sent my kids there full-time? Probably not because as I understand I believe they have fundamentally one approach to teaching which in it’s way is as rigid as it’s alternative (plus couldn’t have afforded it). I think there are two factors involved here, learning style (as you mentioned), but also age. I had some kind of mental block at six, meaning I was literally (I’m older than you) placed at the bottom table in the bottom class. In the 60’s at my school you were “ranked”. I wasn’t too aware of this at the time I have to say. At seven something in my brain clicked and I whizzed up the tables and into the top class. And I mean that – I moved place on those tables three times! Things went swingingly in junior school – where I was fully engaged and had a great time – particularly in the last year where we had a fantastic teacher. I then went to Bexhill Grammar where I spent two years fairly quietly, but during the second started to get bored and disinterested. Later I went back to college and did OK. All of that teaching must have been underpinned by a fairly strict curriculum but the quality of the teachers themselves and my attitude at the time made a big difference to my success or failure at different times. The best teachers, however circumscribed, were those that were interested in us as people and able to somehow be creative within the strictures and respond to our learning styles as presenting at the time (by which I mean that for myself at any rate, I don’t think this is 100 per cent fixed – I thinking it’s possible to learn well in different ways at different times). Even now I can listen attentively to a good but dry lecture for maybe 30 minutes and learn, though my preferred way to learn is by doing. Written on blackberry so hope makes sense…
    Sent using BlackBerryยฎ from Orange

  2. Deborah you forgot to mention you passed your 11plus.
    When you were in Secondary school they soon found out that you were good with people and you were often found to be helping other children, sometimes sent by the teachers and asked to do this.
    You have always helped others.
    Lots of love mum

  3. Great post Deb ๐Ÿ™‚ I have shared the school link and your blog on my FB page, it’ll be interesting to see how many people take the time to look . . .

    Hope you are having a restful day.

    Channelling some steroid/ chemo busting peace to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jackie Hartley

    Ps I have asked to be your FB friend. Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeeee be my friend ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Fascinating post Debs. I wish a certain school in Baldock would adopt some of these practices and spend more time with pupils that don’t quite fit into their regimented ways. Instead these pupils are pushed further down the ladder with no individual help, and of course there is no encouragement to move up again. I think teacher respect plays a major part, and agree with an earlier post, that if the teachers cannot engage with their pupils and treat them as individuals, then the pupils will not be interested in the lesson and anything they have to teach.
    I have two sons that are so different academically… eldest is dyslexic and struggles with core subjects, but does excel at non academic subjects. There seems to be no allowance for his dyslexia other than he can have extra time in his external exams. My youngest son is streamed in A and B sets and doing well, copious amounts of homework and the teachers seem to be more encouraging.
    I could go on but you don’t want to bore you any more, but I think it is like you say Debs, a case of if you don’t fit in or have a different learning style, then you just drop by the wayside. It’s extremely difficult as parents to know what to do for the best.

    Hope you have a lovely weekend, and catch up soon.

  5. “Didn’t do much better” ? I’m practically an academic in our family with 4 gcse’s !!! (Not including French that I got a “d” in, and then re-took and got an “E”)

    And then there was a BTEC nation Diploma !!!

    I think it’s brilliant that we all had the foresight to not overachieve so that our children could surpass our academic excellence…

    ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

  6. Hi Debs, you know I concur with these views and have shared them vociferously in the past! By the way our chapter is now being published!! If you have an email I can it you.

    Heather – I was interested to know about the school in Baldock as I am a Chair of Govs in a certain school in Baldock – always happy to help.

    Debs – popped you something in the post. See you soon. Much love.


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