My eldest son has been experiencing some challenges at lunchtime footy. I think playing footy at lunch break was the most exciting thing for him when he started school again. The children have been working out where he fits into their pack and of course he challenges some of them; he is strong, he is competitive and he loves his footy.
We have been discussing different options that he can try in order to make his experience a great one. Today he was a little lost as to how to handle some dirty play and said, “If it happens again maybe I should go to Mrs. X (the principal) for some help!” I recommended he approach his teacher first, who is the head of sport at school, and I said that I believed she would understand the dynamics and be able to give him and his friends some strategies or ideas.
His response to this was very interesting…
He said, “No Mum, you don’t understand. She is like an ant; all the teachers are like ants. They have to go to the Queen (the principal). They can’t do anything without the Queen!”
While I smiled at the workings of his young mind; his statement got me thinking. I realised that it is quite a profound analogy of the hierarchies present in our schools. What he is witnessing is ‘powerlessness’ where there should be ownership, strength and leadership.
If a young child picks up on the powerlessness of our teachers, we should stop and take note. What is a teacher after all? They are supposed to be the wise leaders within our community. They are leading and supporting our children in the most important years of their lives.
I have heard this powerlessness myself when talking with teachers and staff members at the school. They don’t have enough time for anything and are so consumed by rules, regulations and red tape that they are drowning. They expect children to sit and do what they are told, because they really don’t have the time or energy to handle the dynamics of a classroom full of individuals. They have little freedom to teach, let alone enjoy their job.
It seems everybody is blaming everybody else. The system is blamed (even though it does not have a heart beat), teachers are blamed, parents are blamed and worse of all our children are blamed. It seems we are going around in circles with no one really owning what is happening.
The system itself is so deeply ingrained into our society that I do wonder how it can be changed. Most people just accept it as it is and really most of us feel we don’t have a choice or any voice.
How is any change made in the world? I believe it happens when enough people demand it. It takes courage, determination, persistence and vision.
I believe we must step up and take responsibility for the environments in which we put our children. As teachers, we need to ask ourselves why we teach. I do not yet know how to change it all, but I must ask the difficult questions. I believe our schools should be dynamic and alive. They should be lead by people with vision and passion. They should be places that constantly strive to be better. They should be places that unlock the hearts of our children and places that are lead by people who empower our children to live, to learn and to dream. If all the power lies in government departments, how are our schools going to do this? If my son sees his teacher as an ‘ant’ how is she going to be his leader and mentor?
We are trusting our schools with the lives and the souls of our children. It is our responsibility to ask,
Are they really delivering on the promises they make?
If not, what are we going to do about it?