The discussion around Educational Reform is a critical one, and while certain curricular adjustments are rightfully in demand, it’s not just a matter of pumping the right material through the pipes. To borrow a quote from a very wise woman (my mom), “it’s not so much what’s taught, it’s how it’s taught.” In order to achieve the progressive ideals of transforming education and creating positive growth within our schools, we need to look underneath the parlance of the curriculum and ensure the stability of those responsible for delivering the education. You know those people who show up every day and give all that time and energy to the kids? Maybe we should ask them how they feel (without blaming them for flaws in the system).
Many schools pride themselves on providing a “supportive, nurturing atmosphere” for their students. ”Inclusive” is another buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, without actually being practiced. These essential learning standards remain elusive for so many teachers. It’s basically like saying “I am peaceful and condone further peace,” while being punched in the face. Not only does this diminish the value of real inclusion, but it asks the school culture to assimilate itself to a lie. What a great formula for disconnection, resentment and misplaced energy.
This also teaches a very peculiar lesson about language. What was once a tool to communicate and connect is now used to deliver unreliable information. According to this model of language, a school can insist on its promotion of “inclusion,” while the teachers remain isolated, pressured and undervalued. How fair is it to expect teachers to foster an inclusive class dynamic while feeling unsupported in their own roles? But teachers do their best, and kids – intuitive as they are, internalize the expectation to perform a role even if it opposes their internal landscape and experience.
Western Culture has commoditized and mastered deception; we fake our news, our storytelling, our fitness, our budget, our feelings and we just keep slipping further away from what’s true. We simply cannot afford to fake education; education has immeasurable potential to initiate our reconnection to ourselves and each other.
We teach who we are –which is great when teachers have a sense of belonging, personal power and opportunities to live up to their own full potential.
I wholeheartedly believe the most effective path to positive growth is to challenge ideas, rather than people, even if particular people help sustain the out-dated idea. Targeting or vilifying each other doesn’t address the root issue. If we want to help kids achieve a sense of internal security, support and compassion for self and others, we need to model it honestly. Let’s get the word out more from supportive educational communities because we know they are out there! And let’s definitely, definitely stop attacking the teachers.
This goes beyond how individual teachers are treated in their respective school culture, and expands to include society’s perception of education and teachers. The Education System is an excellent snapshot of our world in this moment. We have a huge opportunity for positive growth if we accept that we are all connected. We need to challenge old, dissonant discourses that thwart true, positive growth and shock the system from the inside-out. Let’s show our teachers some genuine support and recognize their value. And let’s give these kids a real platform to grow into their potential and make this world a better place.
ABOUT THE WRITER
ASHLEY SEAMAN – After completing an English & Cultural Studies Degree at McMaster University, Ashley studied Education in Glasgow, Scotland, earning her membership with The Ontario College of Teachers. Ashley has made her home in Toronto, where she works in a variety of educational contexts, particularly specializing in the promotion of the Arts & Health for all ages. Ashley’s list of favourites includes her family, friends, animals, and following her heart.