Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever had before
I dreamed the schools were killing kids
And had declared a war! (Apologies to Joan Baez!)
I was in a Principals office. This man is known to me and is one of the wisest and most compassionate ever.
In this dream he had a huge chart with all the NAPLAN scores for his school and he was very worried. He was in trouble with the education authorities because around 10% had performed below the national average.
I looked at the scores and suggested 15 minutes a day with a strong synthetic phonics program would have a very fast effect on the literacy scores.
He excused himself and left the room and I awaited his return.
Minutes later he re-entered with all the low score kids and pointed a pistol and shot them all and then aimed at me. I somehow managed to escape with some of the kids and we ran and ran and found ourselves in a deep and dangerous jungle.
The meaning of this horrific dream is pretty obvious and was fuelled by a staff meeting we held recently about our methods and beliefs about education. We turned the whole meeting over to the deep stuff- what works best with kids, gentle, respectful ways to help children and motivate kids who have been casualties of the system.
To compound all this, I have had many recent interviews with very concerned parents of kids with learning problems. They feel their children have just become a test score and are no longer allowed to be a real child with strengths, weaknesses and a personality.
These kids are hurting right in front of us and dread school every day. They are treated as test scores while their home life is now reduced to endless hours of boring worksheets instead of fun filled play with neighbourhood kids. Then more of the same every day. And for what?
This approach does not work. It is ridiculous and built on the shakiest of pedagogical foundations. Research shows us the value of rest and play. Our kids need to be refreshed and learn through play. They need a different approach- one that takes into account the way they learn and one that seeks to make learning intrinsically interesting.
We could stop this damaging and dangerous practices immediately- no money involved- just a little thought, empathy and understanding and skill that teachers already have in spades- they need to be able to use it!
Give them the freedom to truly help kids!
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