School Struggles – Why Broad Strokes Education Doesn’t Work

Now that we’ve been back at school for around 2 months and it’s half term (where did the time go?), I wanted to talk about something that’s been bothering me. The schools we send our children to every day, where we expect them to learn and grow, have a big, glaring problem. They treat every single student the same way. This broad strokes approach to education isn’t new – it’s been happening for decades – but now that it’s being proven that people learn in different ways, surely we should be seeing a change, a shift towards a more flexible education model? Here are the 2 things that bug me about this system:

Everyone Learns Skills Differently

I’ve explored the issue of differing learning styles in one of my previous blogs, but it’s definitely something that need repeating. You see, people forget that not everyone learns things in the same way. A lot of people will assume that everyone learns in the same way they do, which can be frustrating. But it’s not just learning facts and retaining information – people learn practical skills differently too.

For example, I once worked with a young boy of around 9 who was struggling with writing at school. His parents were concerned as it was a battle to get him to do homework and he was finding it difficult to write neatly in pencil and earn his ‘pen license’ at school. As we worked I discovered that he didn’t enjoy writing in pencil at all. It didn’t glide across the page or feel comfortable to work with. He also struggled to write down what was on the board at school in time, which meant he was falling behind. We tried a few different things and discovered he loved writing with gel pens, and we saw an immediate change. He was confident and quick writing with a gel pen. We also tried having him copy words from a book and then having some dictated to him. Again we saw that he was able to write things down quicker and correctly when things were being read to him. This confirmed that he was a kinaesthetic and tonal learner – it had to feel and sound right for him to achieve his best. But because his school were using the ‘pen license’ and getting all students to copy from the board all of the time, he was getting frustrated and not performing as well as he could.

Exams Are Stressful

Ok so this might be a little obvious, after all exams are stressful for everyone! But for some people, exams are a lot worse. Some people are very good at writing in depth, detailed coursework, instead of having to memorise facts and regurgitate them for an exam. In fact, it’s well known that some students who the school had labelled their ‘high achievers’ have come out of exams with grades much lower than expected, just because they aren’t good at exams. This can cause a lot of issues with confidence and self-esteem, as well as progress later in life.

For some, the pressure of exams is just too much. The constant striving to achieve top level results, while being told (incorrectly) that without good grades you won’t succeed in life (I’ve talked about that too, in this post) can drive people away from success. It breaks my heart when you read stories like this one of promising young people who take their own lives, all because exam stress is too much. It’s why I’m so glad that people are now fighting against exams as a way of measuring intelligence in our youngsters. I’ve worked with many students having problems with exams, and I’ve found a lot of the issues aren’t with the material or not knowing the answers, but becoming so stressed about getting a good grade that they can’t think straight.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some schools out there that are experimenting with different ways of teaching, but they are few and far between. The curriculum and standards for schools are so strict that it makes it hard for teachers to help our children learn how to learn or support them in the right way. By applying the same standards to every child, you are only helping the ones who happen to learn in that way, while the rest struggle along or fall through the cracks. This can lead to low self-esteem and difficulties in later life, all because they don’t understand that not all skills are measured by a grade, or that there is a different way to do things. If you have a child who is struggling at school, I would love to work with them, and give them a chance to understand how they learn and improve their lives. For more information just get in touch.


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