Richard is certain that afterthe global pandemic schools will never be the same.
Online learning has forced teachers to look at how they can get through to pupils and how they can reinvent the learning experience to engage children in a safe, social environment.
He explains how upon finding a bug on his son’s windowsill, he transformed an everyday experience into a learning one by prompting the child to find out what species it is and use the internet to learn more.
Liz discusses the importance of introducing “difficult” topics such as pandemics, racism etc into the classroom.
She believes that the fundamentals needed to grasp these topics (equality vs fairness/difference, opinion and bis etc.) are already in a young child's spectrum of understanding.
Therefore, they can enter discussions about racism etc early on and so it is easier to expand on this as they grow older.
She recounted an awkward situation in which a student of colour proposed some people may be racist as they believe black people’s skin “looks like poop”.
Liz recognised that this may have been an internalised belief for the young girl and is would be wrong to chastise her for discussing this topic, despite the fact what she said was offensive.
She argues it is far worse to allow dangerous believes about race (e.g. I mustn’t talk about it) to be internalised and resurface in later life in a much worse way.
She also argues that this is not politicisation of the curriculum as what is taught at schools, what textbooks are used and how much teachers are paid is already government reliant.
Children are already exposed to political discourse and so it should be approached in a much more honest and open way.
This is why she recommends that teacher's self-access their own privilege, belief system and patterns of bias in order to constantly be learning themselves and delvier a higher quality of education to children.
Thomas expresses his concern with the rise of perfectionism in modern day culture where individualism and social media combine to form the narrative “people expect others to be perfect, and the better they perform, the more that is expected of them” This is also due to the importance placed on SATs and generalised exams.
Being held back a grade in middle school will hugely impact the future career of a person and so this pressure can mean many students are put at risk of developing depression/anxiety/EDs as a result of high stress levels.
This culture is devastating is unaddressed and over-parenting a child can make it worse, if their successes and failures are taken on by the parents, they may put too high a value on results and be afraid of failure.
For parents and teachers, Thomas emphasises the importance of taking the focus away from results and focussing instead on the learning process. What did they gain, how did they feel about it, what did they enjoy instead of comparing their progress with the progress of others.
This will create a much healthier learning environment and perpetuate self-compassion for students.
How would they treat a friend if they came home with that result – how can they rationalise and revaluate what a bad grade really means in the grand scheme of their lives?
Jaqueline retells how she is a slow reader and how this clashed with the academic interests of her teachers at school who wanted her to read faster.
Because accessing literary skills is usually based on speed when it comes to books, many children can feel pressured to read more quickly than they want to.
However she explains that some may find it more enjoyable to savour a story. To completely immerse themselves in the narrative and absorb themselves in the world that has been created.
She argues that this stems from her African American history, when so many black Americans where prohibited from learning to read or write.
This illiterate nation of people therefore had to retell their stories in a different way, through songs and through art.
When more and more people began to learn even under the threat of death, literature became so important to African Americans and Jaqueline herself (growing up in the 70s) realised that stories which represented people like her needed to be written.
There was a gap in the scene, where young black children were not being told they mattered and she felt that she needed to take the time to tell these stories and to truly appreciate the legacy behind them.
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