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!”

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 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.

We have an outdated, hierarchical system that does not support current needs. Education needs to be put back into the hands of the educators; those who know what students need. We need bipartisan support for this. 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 this 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. We need to nurture our children now rather than rescue them later when their self esteem and self worth have been destroyed by a 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.

We must turn away from the current data driven philosophy and focus on child centred education. Moving away from NAPLAN and towards experiences and celebrating individual strengths. Every child has equal right to a quality education that recognises their innate strengths and individual needs.

It’s time!

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