We seem to have lost sight of the purpose of education; our schools have become exam factories within a system that judges schools on the basis of their position in league tables. The child has become a thing from which their attainment data is most important.
The government, educators and parents must wake up to the reality that education is about more than grades. Our system encourages schools to boost their league table results or attainment figures to the detriment of their pupils’ wellbeing. The system forces teachers to neglect treating children as a whole-person and undermines the true desired end result of education – the reason we ‘teach’ our children in the first place.
We’ve lost touch with the things that matter most, because the system forces schools to focus on things that matter least, leaving precious little time for anything else. Throughout history and not limited by one country, generation, religion or race, we can find hundreds of quotes by influential people – all with similar ideas about education, so why is it so hard to get governments to support a holistic education system? Why is our education system flawed?
Gandhi said that, “if we want peace in the world, start with our children.”
“A child miseducated is a child lost – John F. Kennedy
Before any great things are accomplished, a memorable change must be made in the system of education…to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher – John Adams
Education is not filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire – William Butler Yeats
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world – Nelson Mandela
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school – Albert Einstein
Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading – G.M. Trevelyan
Teaching is more than imparting knowledge; it is inspiring change – William Arthur Ward
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The principal goal of education in our schools should be to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done – Jean Piaget
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life – John Lennon”
In other words, if we want to rid the world of knife and gun crime, violence and rape, self-interest and bullying, physical and substance abuse, poor mental health and suicide, poverty and unemployment – we must start with our children. Our priority in education must be to teach children to be good people. Children spend six to seven hours a day at school; these hours are far too valuable to be squandered on academics alone. We need to teach children habits that they can embed in their life, so that they can develop a strong moral compass. If we can do this, they will make the world a better place.
The most important skills we need to teach, are the soft skills that build effective relationships such as empathy, valuing differences and kindness, the ability to accept and learn from feedback. This is vital within a school as it creates a culture that enables us to live our values. A teacher can change the trajectory of child’s life forever. What most important is;
• The power of love
• The power of reading
• The power of lifelong learning
• The power of service and contribution
• The power of relationships – especially the power of teacher/pupil relationships and parent/child relationships.
We need to create a culture that makes children;
• Feel good about themselves
• Where they feel important
• Where their voice matters
• Where they feel really cared about
• Where they are made aware of their worth and value
• Confident and creative
• Resilient, supportive and happy
All this needs to be evident in our everyday conversations with children. We must make every effort to affirm and apply these things. Education is so much more than ‘memorising’ things from a book or laptop. The things that matter most in education is; loving, believing and honouring a child – mutual respect. Giving a child a voice by enabling them to lead rather than follow us. We need to give every child the opportunity to find their voice and develop leadership skills. This is so important, it can’t be left to chance, or for the chosen few.
Why wait for ‘someone else’ to make the change? The change starts with you.
Every child has genius within them. As educators, what we see in our children, impacts what they do and become. We must see that every child has within them gifts and talents. Sometimes small gestures and comments can send powerful messages to children. By affirming their worth and potential we can build grit and determination in children. As teachers we need to do an awful lot of believing in the potential of children and encouraging them to see it within themselves. We can’t change the world, but we can change one child at a time and by doing this. We can cast a stone out onto the water that will create a ripple effect.
Marin Luther King Jr said that, “love is the most durable power in the world. It is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Our education system needs to be reinvented, it must become holistic and focus on the things that matter most because these are the very things that will help children achieve and flourish in life.
United Education Group