I have not written in a while and have gone for something different to what I would normally add here. Mainly because this all just came out! Young people, you have shown great resilience this past year and deserve some recognition. Well done for being so awesome and don’t forget to seek out help if you are struggling with anything. We all need support and there are people ready to help you.
What do schools need? Behaviour Hubs?
How about schools needing connection hubs. Empathy hubs. A hub where you can go and be listened to. (To be fair, I believe everyone would benefit from this not just our young people.)
Young people have been through a pandemic too. They have stopped doing all the things that help them develop. Playing sports as part of teams or joining a group of shared interest that has nothing to do with school, meeting friends, being social. They have stayed inside to protect their parents, grandparents, and the older generations. They are unlikely to be harmed by this illness yet are being harmed by the social distancing measures placed on them.
I do not actually care at all for whether my own children have lost some time academically regurgitating facts. They will catch up because they have amazing professionals teaching them. What I care about is that they have lost a year developing socially, building what we know as positive psychologists is an important facet of being well rounded and happy individuals. Positive Relationships.
Now when they return to school they are set to be labelled as poorly behaved, lacking in discipline, enslaved to technology. (Ignore the fact that the majority of adults are glued to tech a lot of the time!). Get off your phone and get outside. Why? Because I said so that is why! Positive relationships grow between school staff and students when we listen, pay attention, lead by example, and have empathy.
Has anyone stopped and actually spoken to the young people in question here?
When I have had the privilege to stop and listen, I hear fear, anxiety, low self-worth. I have heard for many years now a lack of hope for the future. A sense of ‘what’s the point’. Behaviour always, always has something underlying it. Under behaviour are feelings, needs. What do these young people need?
Maybe 10 million could be spent on asking young people what they need for their futures. Asking them how they are feeling and why they are behaving in that way. Helping students find a sense of meaning and purpose in what topics, subjects and rules are abundant in their lives. Giving students a voice and a chance to push for real change.
Surely a pandemic has taught us we are part of a changing and developing world. What is going to be our definition of success in the future when we look at our education system? Burnout and ever higher expectations of children as young as 4 years old? Or happy, balanced individuals who experience the greatest level of wellbeing possible?
Can we all sit down together in an empathy hub and talk, so we can design schools for the future that work for pupils rather than excludes them or makes them feel ‘naughty’?