It’s Time to Stop the Breast Beating

In terms of educators meeting learner needs, it is time for us to stop the self-flagellation and breast-beating that accompanies educational accountability. “Are schools and teachers meeting the needs of children and students” is a question that needs repositioning.

Rather than schools and educators being dumped with loads of accountability for educational inputs and outcomes, it’s time for quizzing to turn to children and their parents. Self responsibility on the part of students and their parents should be the challenge. Are we meeting the needs of learners needs to be looked at in terms of “are children and their primary caregivers doing their bit toward the development of our next generation”.

I once had a conversation with a Principal colleague who told me of a meeting with parents over their child who was particularly and negatively challenging his schools’ culture and ethos. The parents upbraided the Principal for his lack of care and concern. They demanded he and the school do more for the child. The principal offered a conditional response. He and the school would do better for the child for the eighth of the year the child spent at school, if the parents would commit a greater effort for the remaining seven eights of the year – the time he was in their care.

This story goes to the nub of the issue.Schools have a role to play in child and student development, a matter educators have never shirked. However, parents are the primary caregivers and over time the gradual off-loading and dumping of rearing responsibilities onto schools is misplaced and alarming.

The notion of school being a place where fizz has to be applied to every learning situation in an effort to engage learners is equally as galling. Schools need to be fun places and learning needs underpinning with enjoyable experiences. However, there are vital aspects of learning that are repetitious, mundane and focussed toward cognitive appeal. Not everything can be bubble and froth because learning is not about fizz but about substance.

Metaphorically, schools add the yeast added to the bread to make learning rise in the minds and souls of young people. That means biting onto key issues and chewing on the meat of learning opportunities.

The thought ‘best’ education has to be about froth and bubble in order to appeal to young people is a sad commentary on modernity. It also suggest that deep learning is unimportant.

Motivation and Inclination

There seems to be a belief held within society and certainly implied by Governments that all students are inclined learners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Deliberate disinclination is an ingrained element within the psyche of many children and students. Non-respondents may reject learning opportunities by passive resistance or by more belligerent defiance. All rejection is negative, confirming that while you can lead a horse to water you can’t make it drink.

If children come to school with attitudes of deliberate disinclination and defiance, it is hard to move them from negative to more positive attitudes without parental awareness and support. That is not always forthcoming and in fact parents often take the side of children, being in no way prepared to support the efforts of school staff.

It is behoven on children and students to recognise and accept responsibility for their actions. Educators are often too quick to excuse children and parents and too slow to recognise that the onus for change and development should be vested on the home as much as on the school front.

Sadly in this day and age, with parents compulsorily committed to work and earning, the upbringing and development of children, in almost total terms, is thrown at schools. I mean this quite literally because the social/government and system imperative plants this responsibility on and into schools. Many school educators feel they are being ‘commanded’ to bring children up. When societal failings become apparent, schools and their staff members are held up as being the major contributors to that failure. parents, prime carers and students themselves are home free.

That is totally wrong. The wrong people and institutions are be3ing blamed for shortcomings, when the responsibility belongs to those whop are excused.


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