Forgetting to Educate the Whole Child

here’s a quick, crazy story;

Headteacher of Leading Public School Will Expel Students For Having a Boyfriend or Girlfriend

This is truly bizarre. Maybe even more so, because not only is this a crazy announcement by a head of School, but it seems none of his school’s Board of Governors or key personnel have felt the need to challenge him or question this harebrained idea.

In education today, we are helping children and young people to grow up ready to succeed and be their very best in a complex world full of conflicting needs, desires, goals, demands on time and emotions. Does anyone really believe that we prepare them effectively for such a reality by forcing them to eliminate or suppress personal urges from their lives? How is this preparing them for anything?

Firstly, I think this will simply reward students who just don’t happen to feel the same urges early in their lives. Secondly, it could be almost a matter of random fate as to which pupils find themselves on the wrong side of such a rule. It’s likely to encourage dishonesty and devious subterfuge more than celibacy.

Worse, I don’t think it will even serve it’s intended purpose. Suppressed feelings can be just as likely to disturb focus on academic efforts. Also, students can just as easily get disturbed by rivalries in their platonic relationships with peers as with their romantic liaisons.

Finally, if you go out and ask all of the world’s most successful people about the critical aspects that propelled them towards success they will invariably point to mistakes made, acts that felt right at the time but subsequently lead to regret.

So, I say, let youngsters live their lives naturally, have relationships, fall out of relationships, feel all the associated emotions, but be willing to care enough to be there to support them and help them to learn the personal lessons that come with those life experiences. Let our youngsters learn the skills of balancing all the different complex elements of their lives.

This is the way to support young people growing up in a complex world.

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What Did You Learn in School Today?

This is a bad question to ask a child after a day at school, for a multitude of reasons.

Firstly, a day in school is a pretty emotional and draining experience for many children. As a result, by the time the school day gets over the child is mentally frazzled and needs time, space and ideally sleep, to enable them to mentally process al the knowledge and information they’ve taken in.

It’s commonly a frustration to parents that their child seems to remember more about the social aspects of what happened in school, than the academic learning. it may even cause some parents to fear that academically their child isn’t learning very much. He or she can tell you lots about who did what to whom, who said what to a teacher and got away with it, who got punished for what etc. The plain reality is that the social elements and aspects of school are incredibly important to our children. We shouldn’t underestimate how many important skills are being developed through these social interactions – skills that will be vital in adulthood.

Another problem with the question is that the learning experiences of the day are so broad and various that the child is hard pressed to figure out which bits, which elements we the adults might consider most important or want us to share with them. Plainly, the child knows that they’re not expected to give a verbatim report of everything they saw, heard, felt or experienced (and all their judgements and reflections) during the day.

It’s known that a lot of learning isn’t really ‘mine’ until I’ve slept to process it and take full ownership of the memories. This is another reason why such a question can prove challenging.

For many parents, so far, this will all be very unsatisfying. As attentive, keen and diligent parents they want to know that they can show an interest in their child’s learning, ensure their child is maintaining focus and effort and check that their educators are doing their job.

The question becomes – “Well, if that’s not the right question, then what is?”

The following article may contain the germ of an answer.

The British Psychological Society Digest – Could the Way we Talk to Children Help Them Remember Their Science Lessons?

This makes a lot of sense to me. Intuitively, it’s what I often tended to do with my own son when he was younger. It also, as a generalisation, is a line of questioning taken more often by mothers than fathers. I wonder whether the nature of the questions asked, the child’s vocalisation of the answers all serve to provide extra focus for when the child sleeps, enabling better absorption of the learning and greater access for recall later.

Whatever the explanation, I believe this merits more research and in the meantime is a habit worth adopting by parents.

School 21 – Educating The Whole Child

Some fascinating video insights in to a London school that’s doing some great work using project based learning, strong focus on communication skills, oracy, student voice and the development of students with the ability to go out and make a difference in the world.

What Kids Want

Radical !! Asking kids what they want from school – what an idea !! And, what’s amazing – their ideas make so much sense!

Relevant school and the opportunity to learn – pretty simple, really.

Mindshift – What Kids Want Out of School

Should Schools Be Teaching Coding?

Here’s the full length video which i found very thought provoking. I love the way they’ve made it really geek-free. There’s no question in my mind, this is the future for large numbers of our students today:

Hate School – Love Education

A young British Rap-Poet, Suli Amoako, shares his thoughts on the difference between schooling and education – pretty clear which one he’s in favour of:

Children’s Vacations

here’s an interesting blog post from a working mother who really puts her point across very well about how long summer vacations are doing no favours for the children and no favours for the parents.

We at TSRS do have a unique ‘on-off’ issue this year where we need a longer summer break to allow for critical construction work at Aravali. With the children out of school we can work a lot quicker and be sure that no children are being put at risk when it comes to safety.

However, in other years my sympathies are with this mother and her children. There’s been plenty of research done worldwide that shows clearly that long breaks are detrimental both to learning and the skills and habits of learning. Also, as she quite rightly points out, it’s not as if the children are getting to spend the 2 months “running free”.

You really have to stop and ask at some point – who is this serving and in what way? And, if the answer’s not good enough we have to commit to change things:

A mother’s plea