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Is School a Nightmare? For Some It Truly Is
What Skills Do Young People Really Need?
School Sucks for Some
You can talk to any group of young people and they all have different experiences of their school years. Some have a great time and find their school years an exciting time of learning, developing new skills in sport and the arts and finding their feet socially in relationships forming friendships that last for years and sometimes for a lifetime. While other young people stumble their way through and barely make it.
As a school counselor for 11 years or so it was clear to me that there are many unhappy young people who find school a battle ground and feel like square pegs in round holes. Difficulties with learning and struggles with mental health issues aside many young ones are often driven to despair socially and emotionally trying to fit it to normal school life.
Here in Australia the long summer holiday marked by the final of the Australian Tennis Open has come to an end and most students are preparing to return to school and some of course are starting for the very first time.
For many students the normal feelings of butterflies in the stomach last well into each term becoming so monstrous that they turn day after day and week after week into a hellish experience.
Many kids find school a real nightmare and there are varied reasons for this. It goes without saying that the bullying that happens frequently in schools is a constant cause of childhood and adolescent despair damaging self worth and sometimes resulting in the tragic death of young people.
Sometimes though it can simply be because the young person doesn't fit the system. This in itself can be a constant form of misery for a student. I mean when you think of it many school kids don't usually get to choose where they go to school, they just have to go because it's against the law for them not to. In the work force if you don't fit, you would either change to another section of the company you work for or find another job. Easier problem solved, perhaps but not so at school.
My children have grown up now and are long past their school years but for two of them they still can't drive past school without breaking into a cold sweat and shudder at the vivid reminder.
I can't help but wonder as I see young ones face another school year this year and notice some of their anxious faces just how many of them stand with fear and trepidation at the thought of another grueling academic experience, or another painfully awkward and often socially terrifying year at school.
A Need For Alternate Education
And I can't help but wonder if it may be time for a cataclysmic shift in our thinking and approach to the way that education is done. Perhaps an increase in individualized education providing alternate options for students who don't fit the system and can't learn in a standardized way.
Some senior high schools offer a variety of electives for students that offer educational opportunities such as computer skills; art, cooking, music, sewing; craft; furniture making and restoration; home and car maintenance and repairs etc etc but what if senior schools offered the same concept as that of community colleges with classes that prepare students for life beyond school such as marriage and parenthood; recognizing and managing depression and anxiety; running a home and managing a budget; understanding a mortgage and how to pay it off quicker; Human resources such as assertive skills and how to work in a team and how to address and manage conflict and communication in the workplace; effective communication and working through relationship issues; how to be a considerate, respectful contributing member of the community by volunteering and showing kindness to others.
These are just some ideas to cater for different students needs and lessen the anxiety, boredom and frustration that many students feel when not appropriately challenged or are forced to take a subject due to lack of variety and focus on academic subjects.
We need smart people who can run national budgets, fly aircraft to the moon, discover cures for cancer and schools that cater for the next generation of gifted individuals. But the majority of people worldwide are of average intelligence and rate in the normal percentile of the IQ data and will be at some stage of their lives married or in a relationship; have children; be employed in the workforce and be challenged to compete, communicate and manage conflict in the workplace.
Shouldn't schools by now in this enlightened age cease then to acknowledge that intellectual wisdom can only be measured by a scientific, mathematical, engineered, literate or artistic brain and not only recognize the issues at hand but attempt to dare I say overthrow archaic curriculum's and establish new far reaching into the future curriculum's that cater for different forms of intellectual smarts and make schools a better place for the majority not the elite.
Standardized education such as English, Maths and the sciences are most important but my point is, so to are mental health and well being; workplace survival management; marriage and family and parenthood skills that need to be taught and learned and used long into the future, and are just as necessary if not even more vital for the journey through life.