The University of Missouri conducted a study that found 94% of middle school teachers experience high levels of stress, which could contribute to negative outcomes for students. Researchers say that reducing the burden of teaching experienced by so many teachers is critical to improving student success — both academically and behaviourally.
Anyone who works in education is likely nodding their head in agreement with the study’s findings. Teaching today is synonymous with the modern struggle - a very rewarding career that comes at an extremely high cost.
For those adults who grew up on social media, the modern struggle is a result of the external pressures of dealing with a firehose of information being beamed directly into our skulls. Naval Ravikant beautifully explains how the modern struggle has left adults alone to fight against the addictive powers of technology. Overstimulation has resulted in the decline of mental well being as we spend more time trying to navigate a world where the truth becomes increasingly murky.
Was that Instagram influencers photos modified?
Why does perusing other people's amazing lives on the internet make me feel so bad?
I was interested in buying a car and now I’m being bombarded with car ads. How did this happen?
Operating in a world rich in technology has split our being in two. One that exists as the internet views us and one where we exist in flesh and blood.
Say something wrong on the internet and there’s a chance your flesh and being self will be obliterated. Show something awesome on the internet and we get a strong dopamine hit, but the value of it declines exponentially and we’re forced to repeat the process all with the hope that we’re not doing something incorrectly.
What does this have to do with modern education?
In its traditional form, education is nothing more than an artist’s blank canvas. A school is a place where similar aged children gather to train to become productive adults. Any experienced educator will tell you that to produce a flourishing adult, it requires making mistakes and at times, it can be extremely messy.
Some mistakes that are required to grow can be huge.
Failing a test can be devastating, but it shouldn’t be anxiety-inducing. Learning comes from experience which is born from error-correcting. The best leaders (past and present) all share a common tenant - they failed miserably at some point. Churchill’s disastrous WW1 raid in Turkey taught him that overly bold action without proper planning will end in disaster. The D-Day invasion of France was the largest most elaborately planned battle in human history. Churchill’s experience directly affected modern history. If he hadn’t made that mistake, perhaps we wouldn’t be living in the world as we know it.
Failing a test today more devastating than ever to students. Pressure from parents to succeed is at an all-time high. This leads to fragile beings who are unwilling to take risks in order to avoid failure. Without mistakes and calculated risks, one cannot grow.
Coupled to this idea is that parents are more involved in students’ education. Teachers are under enormous pressure to ensure that each student is performing at their utmost abilities at all times.
When students make mistakes, finger-pointing is often directed at the teacher or school. The accountability of the student is at an all-time low.
Throw in the extra demands placed on educators by the system - professional development, recess duties, mandatory coaching, etc - and the time and quality of actual teaching becomes shockingly eroded.
The solution to this escalating problem?
Faith in our children’s ability to overcome and achieve without massive direct intervention from parents, teachers, and society in general.
Faith in our education system to provide the appropriate curriculum, professional educators and safe working environments needed to allow student growth and development.
Faith that although it might seem counterintuitive, the world is indeed safer, more productive and favourable than it has ever been.
Faith that whatever we do, or don’t do, our kids will still seek out their interests and pursue interesting adventures.
Faith that in spite of every opportunity we feel like our children miss out on, they will find a way to make the world even better than we left it.