Recently saw the below tweet from Amjad Ali (@ASTsupportAAli) on twitter which I thought was a great idea. As such I went and added it to my email footer in the hope of encouraging others to pay it forward.
“If your weeks been incredibly busy then it’s more than likely to have been super busy for a colleague or two of yours. End the week by sending them an email to say thank you. You don’t need to be their line manager. Just a friendly face. It’ll make a difference.“
This however got me thinking about the prevailing narrative around education and why it might often be seen as negative.
Lets first consider education theories and practices. It takes a lot of effort to come up with an educational theory or practice. This might be through action research efforts or through conventional research. A teacher might first think up a new idea then might develop resources and content. They then have to try out their practice with students. This however isn’t enough as they either need to repeat this with the same students or ideally with different groups of students to check that their initial findings and beliefs hold true. The issue is that it takes significantly less effort to prove a theory to be flawed. This is the same for a lot of things. Creating takes time and effort, however criticizing and identifying error and fault takes less.
The next issue we have is that when we remember things we tend to overweight the negatives. This is likely a result of human survival instincts. For our ancestors, the fact a particular fruit tasted very nice was less important to remember than the negative fact that the lions on the horizon consider us to be a key item on the lunch menu. The result from this is that when we read reports online or watch reports on TV we will tend to remember the negative reports more than the positive reports. This in turn builds up a negative picture in our minds even where we are exposed to equal number of positive and negative stories.
The above are just two reasons I believe that the narrative around schools and education is becoming negative. The focus is on declining results, struggles recruiting teachers, lack of basic Maths and English skills along with other negative stories. These stories all came readily to my mind. I am sure I have seen lots of positive stories too however these don’t occur to me quite so easily.
This is why I really liked the tweet from Amjad. It is time we started to change the narrative starting in our schools and among our hardworking educators. If we each made an effort to thank someone in our school for their efforts, someone not necessarily within our line management, we might be able to start building more positivity. We might start remembering all the excellent work done on a day to day basis. The small achievements with individual students. The moment of inspiration or the moment of intense engagement by a student which are often forgotten in the hard work of a term or an academic year. We will need to work hard at this. As I have suggested the negative memories and stories are stronger than the positive ones so we will need to share more positives than negatives even to achieve a balance. But if we all commit to little things, often, like thanking our colleagues and also our students we might bring about a significant change.
The sooner we start the better………
And on that note, thank you for reading this and also thank you for the work you do in which ever school or educational capacity you work in.