Happier students will love to learn
THERE has been a lot of reporting in the media about young Australians experiencing greater levels of stress, anxiety and unhappiness due to school pressures.
The rise in the number of unhappy students is fast becoming a global one.
We have to ask the question, is the current model of schooling making our kids sick? UNESCO recently released a framework for promoting the concept of “Happy Schools” to address this issue.
Many experts cite the overemphasis on testing, ranking students by test performance and the one-size fits-all approach to schooling as key reasons for unnecessary strain on students, which eventually kills young people’s love of learning.
Of course there is a place for testing, but we need to look at the purpose and way we assess student learning.
Traditionally testing has been an external measure that the teacher controls, placing students on a grading scale, and students are expected to be at a certain level by a certain age.
This is similar to the traditional way of measuring workers’ performance through annual performance reviews that attempt to give employees external feedback on a year’s worth of work in one sitting.
Contemporary performance models look at providing employees with regular feedback and opportunities to self-reflect on their work.
In the same way, some schools are responding to the challenge by replacing external exams with more flexible assessment tasks in an attempt to get students to think critically about their own learning and the steps they need to take to improve.
This approach ensures a more personalised learning experience and less pressure on learners to conform to one standard at a given time.
A mindset of continual growth will help students retain their love of learning, build confidence and resilience and develop the skills needed for life and work.
It is time to champion a new model of schooling that ensures the wellbeing of students so they can be best placed to learn.