Education: We are not pushing academic robots, but leading out human beings. Teachers must make sure they are doing the right job

james shone

By James Shone

I remember my first PGCE essay title which many of us probably had to write:“what is education?” I think we all went straight to the derivation of the word ‘education’ and found that ‘educere’ is the Latin verb meaning ‘to lead out’. I feel strongly that we must not lose sight of this.
As I visited a variety of schools last week I was so struck that teachers and parents generally share this same view and want the education process to be about the whole child. What they don’t want is for the system to treat them as small, academic robots. However, for a school to avoid doing this involves them swimming against the tide. Currently, there is such a prevalent approach by all schools, universities and the corporate world to treat the academic route as the primary one yet those parents of suffering pupils and others in the front line can so often see the impact of this narrow minded outlook.
As I write I am aware of what a complex challenge this is for us all. We know that to go light on the academics and allow our children to roam free in the areas that interest them most may be best for them now but wonder if this path of least resistance will result in shutting doors for them in their future. Does this mean we should we take the approach of pushing them against their best interests and possibly see them suffer? What is best?
I think that the answer is pastoral pro-activity and navigating our young people through this complex and confusing time, which I’m sure cannot remain the same forever.

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