I have some beautiful students.
Beautiful souls. Eager, delicate, in need of gentle guidance.
We debate, we reveal parts of our personalities, we experience time together…growing older together. Appreciating genius words, colliding with notions, crashing into history and showering us with emotion.
Don’t think for a second that my classroom is idyllic- it’s far from it. I get seriously wound up and so do they. I admit I’m a smothering Matriarch.
But it’s safe. I really work hard to make it emotionally safe.
Until we had to do out first assessment today configured loosely around GCSE exams.
Some of them literally crumbled before my eyes. They wilted. The stress was palpable and they’re 2 years off the real thing!
As teachers we act as a conduit for the extreme expectations of the management. The kids feel our intense burden of how do their books look, are they making adequate progress, are they engaging enough…how that makes Us look.
The current education system makes us care about our career and professional prowess over forming young minds.
It’s agonising to watch. Supremely painful to watch their bravado, their insight, their brilliant inference meld into a quivering wreck.
My bouncy, intuitive student couldn’t find a word to put to paper: despite my empathetic nudges, she had to leave the room, cry and tell me how much she cant cope with getting it wrong. I told her to chill and read a book.
Another boy, spent the whole lesson in sick bay after some sorry attempts of mine to prompt him.
So many students couldn’t remember their quotes and were flummoxed. Any hurdle tripped them up.
Others needed constant reminding sentence by sentence after weeks of prep.
We talk about building robust future citizens. I think this new exam heavy curriculum is creating a massive chasm of the haves and have nots.
The few who can do tests and the many who find the order too tall.
Yes I learnt some important pointers today about their low self esteem and the need to practise the complex requirements of exams in tiny swallowable chunks.
But this kind of pressure definitely takes the joy out of Learning.