Togethered Learning

Educational Misses

Frank Morrison’s Art I have long admired. This work is titled as Arithmetic. The pose of both students is emblematic

The state of education

My eldest son aged 11, came home from school recently and shared that he had concerns about his experiences that have troubled and alarmed me. As his father I want nothing more than to protect and shield him from the shadier elements of London living. I realise however the contradiction as I write, because I have worked in prisons for over four years. I have also worked with vulnerable people on the margins of society and that live in the shade for over 8 years. Deepening and grading my perspective considerably.

Working for almost 4 years with Together a National charity that supported service users and probation officers and courts in London. Together’s highly skilled team of practitioners provide mental health support and psycho education to service users involved within London’s criminal Justice System. 

‘*Shade is a factor of life, it precedes and follows light.’

An Event Horizon
Shade and Light – Event Horizon

Transfer

My son has moved from a well-resourced primary school with a committed PTA (Parent Teacher Association) with middle class values and expectations to a secondary school that whilst being in the same neighborhood seems to not be as well supported. The commitment the school has appears geared to raising it’s educational achievements as a secondary school. The social and emotional development of it’s pupils seems to have been overlooked. The documentary called School emphasises what the lack of investment and resources has meant for secondary schools across the country.

Aggress

My son reports that nearly every day there are playground fights and his year group are involved with something called “violating” other pupils. A form of engaging negatively with another pupil that shames them and makes them either react aggressively or retreat from social engagements. Which can have a huge social impact on students – limiting the scope of making firm social connections and friends and bearing witness to the challenges of inner city life.

John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons on Netflix is a phenomenal expose on growing up ‘Othered’ within a country that does not want to accept it’s involvement with the systematic destruction and demonisation of several groups of people and their cultures. Ghetto Rage is a topic of interest John mentioned that I will further investigate and write about soon. 

Refuse

As a 40 something year old man I don’t understand the culture of school being a site for malevolence and cruelty committed by pupils as vulnerable as peers of my son’s against fellow pupils. Being assertive is a factor of living learning and growing. Bullying as part of systemic form of disorganised peer oppression troubles me.

My son simply does not want to go to his school or participate in any of the senseless acts of pseudo violence, passive and active forms of aggression
as a result, or other acts of hyper masculinity that seem to have besieged his year group. What is going wrong I wonder with state education? Why are young women and young men acting in harmful ways to other children and themselves and what can we all do about it?

Switch

I doubt I will be able to find the answers in this piece of writing however I can raise my concerns and offer ideas of possible ways forward. I wonder if a member of parliament’s child were attending my son’s state school what they would think/see/feel?

I am disappointed that the choices we are left to think through are: exiting the school, non-attendance and living with a sense of anxiety that has grown in my son and through our family. The social development versus academic achievement focus appears to have been the split that this school has made.

The thinking I have is that the school has grossly under estimated the effect that the focus and pressure toward academia could have on it’s key stage 3 and 4 progression results and overall exam achievements. A
socially and emotionally balanced pupil could perform 
academically better. Not just at exams but in life also. 

Something Else

Perhaps another way is to be found with education that invites collaboration, communication and creativity. Few children my son included are without the curiosity to look for answers or create story’s that make sense of the worlds that they inhabit. For their, our children’s, worlds are different to ours. They face challenges that are new for the planet, maybe we should be teaching all differently…  

Resources

Akala and Education

TES Small Schools Work

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One thought on “Educational Misses

  1. Hi Michael

    Just read your post today, to say that I’m absolutely furious is an understatement.

    I’m unable to make any comments so here it is, apologies upfront, I’m so angry at the lack of duty school take to protect our children, etc. School is a time where young people form their already growing identity. Please note these are just suggestions which I know you would’ve considered, but I’m just putting it out there….

    Having had a son who went to three different schools and achieved. I know how difficult it can be for parents to be concerned about our children and rightly so. I wonder if you have considered your options? A better school outside the area? Discuss your concerns with the school and raise it with the Council? Being a pest! Home schooling and potentially hire a tutor who is willing and able to school your son at home under supervision from yourselves? This is proving a positive experience for other children that I know as they work around the children. Of course there is both positive and negative experiences in everything. Private school? Volunteer in the school to ensure that your son and others like him are cared for, because those who are naughty get attention? The list can be endless, consider your creativity. We have to be caring for our children.

    Sorry this sounds like a rant and me telling you what to do, I’m sorry about that, but the Jamaican patois is out. I’m so angry that your son has to go through this terrible experience!!!

    Best wishes

    Sue

    On Thu, 13 Dec 2018, 08:37 Michael Forfieh Counselling michael forfieh posted: ” Frank Morrison’s Art I have long admired. This > work is titled as Arithmetic. The pose of both students is emblematic… > The state of education My eldest son aged 11, came home from school > recently and shared that he had concerns about his experienc” >

    Like

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