Hap­pier stu­dents will love to learn

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - @SCHOOL - GREG WHITBY @greg­whitby

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.

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