The curriculum we have to study at school is absolutely HUGE. In England, we have 2 years to cover about 14 (long) textbook’s worth of information, which is followed by a series of around 25 exams at the end of year 11 (15/16 years old).
Obviously when kids find out just how much information they are expected to retain in this short amount of time, they often panic, ‘How are we going to get through this?’, ‘There isn’t enough time!’, ‘I’m never going to remember it all’… But what we often don’t take into account is that the teachers are presented with the exact same syllabus, and have to TEACH it to possibly hundreds of kids, plus marking homework, plus having their own personal lives, and an extra bonus is that all the kids are asking them the questions above – which they themselves have been asking for years. In my personal experience, almost all of the teachers I’ve ever had have found the syllabus overwhelming and their stress levels can often supersede the normal limit.
Teachers then address 30 or so children, so anxious to get through the curriculum that their passion for the subject or connection with the students can be lost, making it a tricky environment to both learn and teach in. Of course there is a lot for students to learn within the few years they have at school, and it is tough to fit it all in… But does that mean teachers should be pushed to their very limits and exasperated so much that they can’t focus on both the children’s and their own wellbeing?
When teachers are focused on the amount of work they have to get through rather than fully engaging with his/her students, the students can often feel very unenthused and unmotivated towards whichever subject they’re learning. And of course when kids are forced to do things they don’t like, they often dig their heels in as much as possible in order to get out of it. This can lead to classes being more like an opportunity to procrastinate and joke around, than to study… Teachers then find it even trickier to tutor them.
What attitude do the children then leave school with? They end up with hundreds of examples of people not caring about their opinion or wellbeing, who would rather yell at them for talking in class than engage in a conversation with them. After being treated over and over again like just a number on a register that has to be taught a specific syllabus end of, is it really going to give them a very positive or confident starting point to enter the world as adults? We say school teaches children how to be mature and how to deal with ‘life’s many challenges’… But I know for me over the school years I have witnessed many friends and peers loose the openness and joy that they start their first day of school with. Many find the idea of going into the ‘real world’ daunting.
The relationships kids have with their teachers are crucial and play a massive part of their time in education; they are some of the first adults who they spend a large chunk of time with, and if there is not that connection then for future relationships they will not know what to expect and are less likely to distinguish a loving relationship from a controlling one.
This is certainly not an article slamming teachers, as was pointed out at the start they know no different than to prepare children for life by educating them as best they can. But,
what needs to be remembered is that the relationships built at school, are those that will be the foundational point of reference for the rest of the kids’ lives…
So maybe such an enormous curriculum should be spread out, or are there different ways of teaching where overwhelm and stress does not occur so often? I put this to the teachers, education ministers and anyone who can make a difference… Is there a way of both educating AND building relationships with students?
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.