It’s 2016 and in many countries we’re still subjecting our children and teenagers to a school system that was designed over a century ago, to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution.
I love teaching. I don’t enjoy working in a school; so I no longer do. I’m not a fan of our outdated, “Victorian” school system in South Africa. I don’t believe that subject-specific norms-based assessments provide anywhere near an accurate reflection of an individual’s intelligence, talent or potential. However, the Matric exams remain as the final hoop to jump through before being granted access to a world of further study, or work.
Some people are lucky enough to cope and even thrive in our current school system. Some find their niche in home-schooling; which is an option if there is strong parental support/supervision and access to a network of other home-schoolers and tutors. Sadly, more and more children and teenagers are battling to excel in a system that wasn’t designed with their needs in mind.
“Lazy, stupid, naughty, bad …”
It breaks my heart when I meet dejected, frustrated and depressed students who have begun to internalise the misplaced labels, doled out by teachers battling with increased workloads, larger class sizes and unrealistic administrative expectations. Passionate educators end up in “survival mode”, navigating from crises to deadlines in a state of permanent exhaustion … and students are bearing the brunt. Unable to meet the individual needs of every student, burnt out teachers use adjectives like lazy, stupid, naughty, bad, etc, to describe students who are simply floundering. I understand how hard it is to effectively deal with an “acting out” student in a class of 25+, who is inhibiting the others’ right to learn. Sadly, life-long damage can be done by a misplaced comment, or – as is often the case these days – an daily repetition of unfair and inappropriate name-calling from underpaid, over-loaded teachers whose burn-out has disconnected them from the passion for learning that originally drew them to the profession.
“I don’t know …”
In my academic coaching and tutoring work, the mindset that I most often need to shift in under-achieving students is the knee-jerk “I don’t know” response to questions. I will talk about shifting this in another blog post, but I just wanted to highlight this issue. “I don’t know” is a defensive adaptation that students use to avoid the humiliation of being wrong. In our current school system, there is such a rush to “finish the syllabus in time for exams!!!” The content increases. The numbers of tests increase. The deadlines are constant and threatening. There is no time for “Hang on a minute, let me just think about that,” or “I need a bit more help understanding this, please,” or “I’ll give it my best stab because I know that if I’m wrong someone will take the time to help me learn from my error and master the subject at hand”.
So how do I help?
One to one tutoring and academic coaching helps students get back on track to reach their learning potential. I combine study skills and goal setting/planning with subject-specific tuition. Whether a student needs help in passing a subject, or wishes to convert their B’s into A’s, I will help them reach their goals. Confidence, understanding and maximizing individual learning styles and developing a more positive attitude to learning are crucial to academic success.
Get in touch
Feel free to ask questions – I’ll try and answer as quickly as possible.
If you live in Durban and would like to enquire about private and/or group coaching, give me a call or Whattsapp on 084 207 4707, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Skype sessions available for out-of-towners!