A participant in one of my leadership workshops in Abu Dhabi last week, asked me about a way to coach her seven-year-old daughter as she caught her praying to God to keep her from going to school.
Her daughter is in grade 3, carries 22 books with her to school, and has at least 1 monthly exam in each of the 10 subjects she studies....Do the math, it is one exam every other day.
While we all know that real life is tough, do we really need to put our children under all this pressure?
At our MindGym unit in ideas group (workshops for teens), we have noticed that a few number of schools are evolving and the majority still run their curriculums as a military bootcamp, thinking the more pressure they apply on students, the more learning will take place. Through a research conducted in the Middle East region, we came to realize that kids hate schools for the following reasons:
One size fits all:
Our schools still run under that rule. Instead of identifying the different types of learners, schools teach all kids the same topics using the same methods.
Can you imagine that the teachers of Richard Branson used to hit him because he was mildly dyslectic, and many of them thought of him as a looser.
And did you know that during a parent meeting, the Headmaster told Albert Einstein's parents that he did not have the ability to be a successful professional. He recommended that Einstein attends a trade school. In fact, his teachers thought he was borderline retarded.
Schools divide students according to their grades; Grades that they accumulate according to certain testing criteria which are usually tests and exams i.e. that require a large amount of studying and are stored in the short term memory. According to our current educational institutions, the smart kids are the one that do good in math and sciences.
Just recently some of the teamwork activities got introduced in a limited number of schools. How do you expect your employees to work as one team when they are exposed to at least 13 years to individualistic exams and activities. While assigning students to teams, we do not only help them to think in groups, we will also be able to strengthen the confidence of the weakest link in the team and thus creating greater confidence in learners.
A failing reward system:
Schools tend to recognize the top three students in each class and demean the bottom three. They just crush the confidence of the low scorers. We tend to define ourselves by the opinion of others. So instead of motivating the low performers and working with them on strengthening their positions, educational institutions tend to crush their self-perception and label them as problem student or bluntly losers.
A military rain:
There is a great level of restrictiveness. Students are not allowed to speak as freely, they cannot choose how to spend their time; as a matter of fact, they cannot choose at all. They are subject to authority and are always controlled by fear. As education specialist Bob Sparrow puts it: “The current system was made to contain troublemakers, not promote a positive learning environment. But why do we have to assume the worst of students?”
An uncreative environment:
At schools, we are required to conduct assignments exactly like the teacher wants it. We are allowed only one color (usually blue) and teachers forbid us to look at things in different ways. A colleague of mine was telling me that her very talented ten-year-old daughter stopped drawing after her arts teacher told the little girl that she is bad at drawing because of blending incompatible colors together. Isn’t Art about looking at things from different angles?
I didn’t write this blog to attack or demean the work of our wonderful teachers, we are just transmitting our observations, to help our educational systems evolve and apply the best learning methodologies.
Camil el Khoury