So it’s the final term of the school year – and we hope our colleagues working in schools were able to enjoy some quality time during the half-term break for relaxation and refreshment, ready for the next few weeks.
Educational issues nowadays appear in the media with great regularity – perhaps rightly so. Education affects us all, helps to nurture our children and young people, and plays a significant role in shaping the society of the future. Last week the news didn’t take a half-term break and neither did our reporting on key aspects of education.
If you missed our articles on relationships and sex education, then please follow the links here.
We need to tackle these crucial issues with some urgency, and we need to make some important decisions as soon as possible. For more information on the campaigns for quality relationships and sex education please follow our link to the Sex Education Forum website:
Today is no different from any other day in the world of education. News reports are full of stories about university league tables, passion for learning, low levels of aspiration for some of our girls and young women, and the perennial discussion about admissions, selection, grammar schools and inequality in schooling, which we commented on yesterday – all in the space of an hour on Radio Four’s Today programme and a quick skim read of the newspaper. Clearly these are vital issues that no parent or teacher should ignore or consider unimportant.
For us it’s interesting how people frequently talk about education without realising that they’re doing so. In the “Thought for the Day” slot, for example, today’s speaker commented on the importance of finding one’s vocation, in this instance in relation to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. He said that one of the reasons the Queen has been “successful” is that she has a passion for her work – something that he felt was lacking in many of our young people. What he didn’t do was discuss the causal relationship between this problem and the fact that our young people are all too frequently given a schooling that lacks creativity and doesn’t encourage our youngsters to explore their passions and their individuality.
As we said in our post yesterday, we need a complete rethink about our educational provision. If we want to inspire our young people, we need to offer them something that is meaningful to them. We need to listen to young people instead of dismissing their thoughts on the type of curriculum that they want as unrealisable pipedreams. We need to consider their passions, their creativity and their aspirations – which may be quite different to what we expect. We need to enable them to know themselves – to develop and encourage their personal intelligence.
We also need to look at whether and how we’re helping to develop their social intelligence, in order to understand how to balance their needs with the needs of others. Empathy, for instance, is something that we shouldn’t take for granted, thinking that it will develop through osmosis. As Simon Baron-Cohen says in his book “Zero Degrees of Empathy” – “We just assume empathy will develop in every child, come what may. We put little time, effort or money into nurturing it”.
This should be an integral part of what we provide in the name of holistic education, and we should do so through a “broad and balanced” curriculum.
Again, if you missed our posts on social intelligence and empathy, please use the links below.
If we get our relationships right, if we adopt an attitude of compassion, empathy and lovingkindness, and if we learn how to manage our opinions, emotions and feelings in relation to ourselves and others, then we might produce a generation of people who know their strengths and passions whilst simultaneously acknowledging the rights and passions of others.
Shouldn’t this be an integral part of all education?
One final note: last weekend we attended a reception at which a colleague of ours made a presentation about a new television series that he’s producing. Adopting the BBC motto, his co-producer explained that this new series will “inform, educate and entertain”.
These are objectives we should all consider when discussing the type of learning that we need to encourage in schools. Before doing so, however, perhaps we really ought to ask what “to educate” really means. Education for each of our multiple intelligences requires a lot more than rigourous preparation to do well in formal timed tests and examinations.