I wonder what the ‘problem’ is. For sure, one is lack of funding. Still, I believe that all it is but a sign that something needs to change. The way we treat our kids must end and a new era must dawn.
I spent, so far, two days, trying to over-shout and militarize bunches of 11-16 year olds in a west London secondary school that claims to ‘teach’ the person and to set attainable goals for the kids in order for them to find their inner calling. Well. Though I only worked there as a supply teacher and, surely, I cannot see the hidden gems behind constant reward-and-punishment games with seemingly deeply disturbed teenagers who find it impossible to sit still and do some (any) work. Neither do they have the respect and tolerance towards each other to allow those to study who wish to learn something. As I teacher, I spent 99% of my ‘teaching’ time asking students to sit down and stop throwing things across the classroom or at each other. Having a supply teacher clearly means that students can let down all their frustration with themselves, life, the education system, and their parents on a person who tries to figure out where the appropriate slide is for the lesson she is about to hold while reading the school’s disciplinary policy.
After my second day, I received some feedback from the supply coordinator that I am not good at managing the class’ behaviour. It was a wow movement for me because only then I realized that I was not hired to teach anything but to manage students’ unacceptable behaviour.
In my observation, this school adopted a rather ‘military’ like setting where there are strict rules to follow but no questions are asked. It seemed to me that there was some ‘support’ system put in place where recidivists were asked to rethink their behaviour and set targets for achieving some unfathomably ‘better behaviour’. The school claims to use coaching tools to motivate students to achieve but the ‘clients’ main goal is to do their best in the classroom or behave acceptably. Neither of them are specific or motivating.
In this state school classes are of 25-30 students, majority of them do not even want to be there, let alone being taught anything.
Though I was exhausted at the end of the day, I could not become angry or upset. It is not their fault. I lost my voice by the end of each day but I could still feel their yearning. What it was they really needed, I do not know. I am not sure anybody does. One thing is for sure, attention. A good kind of that. I am not sure I gave much because I was overwhelmed with the ‘unknown’s.
After all, I still do not believe that kids are born with an inherent disrespect towards learning and education. I can only wonder what we, adults, could do to turn it around.
Education should not be a privilege but a fulfilled basic need. I also believe that what we teach these days is exceedingly irrelevant and unnecessary. E.g. teaching historical dates to kids whose best friend is Google is a waste of time. However, teaching them how to think for themselves, how to face and solve problems based on their values and principles that they could discover through various learning activities, I believe, would greatly help them see some future ahead.
And it is not only my job as a teacher but as a parent, too.