Equality Education: Student Centred Strength Based Schools

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22nd July, 2019

Janine Rees

Teachers are screaming from the rooftops… “let us do our jobs!”

Too many teachers on stress leave to count! Is anyone actually able to put their finger on that statistic? We know that teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Many experienced teachers are moving to relief teaching to save their sanity a little, but taking over another’s class for a day (or more) has different stressors and challenges.

Kids are stressed, anxious and hating school and sadly, themselves.

Parents are at their wit’s end trying to support their children through what sometimes resembles a warzone but in actual fact should be a safe and nurturing classroom.

What is going wrong???

Systemic standardized education!

We have an outdated, hierarchical system that is abusing students, parents and carers and educators. This need not be the case. Education needs to be put back into the hands of the educators; those who know what students need. We need bipartisan support for this.

There is an entire layer of governance that could be removed. We need to upend the hierarchy and even out the playing field. A child has the same rights as their parent,  carer, teacher, principal, politician or anyone in fact. All are equal. All deserving the same level of respect. Respect isn’t earned it is everyone’s birthright.

When we respect each other equally we allow for non-violent communication to be the foundation on which creativity blossoms, collaboration grows and empathy and understanding for another’s point of view is the norm. To respect others we must first respect ourselves.

Countless lives have been damaged and it’s time for the abuse to stop. It’s time to listen to the needs of our most vulnerable. It’s time to let each child blossom at their own rate and discover their talents and strengths and know their innate worth and value. How much society would prosper if we could nurture our children rather than rescue them later when their self esteem and self worth have been destroyed by a clinical system that they didn’t fit into.

Over the past 6 years I have listened to thousands of stories of pain and heartbreak. Students and parents trying to navigate the system and fit into prescribes boxes. It’s time to crush the boxes and recycle them. No one deserves to be judged and labelled by another.

Each child is absolutely perfect exactly as they are. Each child is unique and gifted with their own individual strengths and abilities. Every single child.

Education is the igniting of a fire, not filling empty vessels.

Our early years should be a time of imagining, discovery and play not testing and working. Our primary years should be a time where children enjoy a tasting plate of experiences, exploring and pondering many and varied questions, problems and topics; opening their minds up to the wonders of the world. Secondary education should be a time of growing, challenging, honing skills, belonging, communicating and collaborating, and developing the strengths and gifts each individual uncovers along their journey.

We need to give each child the nurturing support and mentoring they need to develop a strong self worth and self efficacy. We will know we’ve succeeded when every child is happy and thriving at school and beyond. We already have all the resources necessary in our schools. We need to re-purpose and re-imagine!

We start from each individual child’s needs. Finland do this. New Zealand are doing this. Many schools in Australia are already doing this. Developmentally appropriate, personalised education is the way forward.

If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life as the saying goes. I love seeing students thrive. It’s possible for each and every student. It’s time for change.

Step one: We must scrap NAPLAN and put that money into supporting the transition to student centred schools.  This is as easy as the PM saying “We have scrapped NAPLAN, it wasn’t working!” No more expensive reviews. Jacinda Ardern said and did very similar at the end of 2017 in scrapping National Standards. Believe me when I say every single teacher in Australia will jump for joy and dance a jig of celebration and then possibly cry in relief and for all the damage they have witnessed it cause.

There is strength in numbers, please share your stories in the comments to help us to make change happen. Every child has equal right to a quality education that recognises their innate strengths and individual needs.

It’s time!

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